Bill would safeguard public land


By Erin Miller

Stephens Media

A measure to codify language about public access and open space land Hawaii County voters approved eight years ago goes before the County Council for its final reading Wednesday.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford, South Kona and Ka‘u, introduced Bill 24 to put in the code, and in the deeds for property the county has already purchased, language that makes clear the land purchased with the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund cannot be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.

“This is the will of the people,” Ford said Monday. “They have voted on it three times.”

The first vote was in 2006, when more than half of island voters cast their ballots in favor of setting aside 2 percent of property tax revenues to buy open space.

In 2010, Mayor Billy Kenoi suspended payments into the fund, prompting County Council members to spar over what an appropriate mandatory minimum percentage of tax revenues should be directed to the fund.

Voters in November 2010 approved a charter amendment requiring at least 1 percent of tax revenues to go the fund. In November 2012, voters increased that minimum back to 2 percent and approved a new measure, this one to set aside 0.25 percent of revenues to maintain lands purchased through the fund.

Ford said the language in Bill 24 was already in the County Charter. She just wanted to make sure it made it into the County Code. At first reading Feb. 6, all eight council members who were present voted in favor of the measure, she said.

The council meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Email Erin Miller at emiller@westhawaiitoday.com

 

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