State roundup for October 22
Kauai seeking more hotel taxes
LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — Kauai County officials will ask the state for a larger slice of Hawaii’s hotel room tax.
Visitor-related expenses cost the county $44.2 million in fiscal year 2012, including nearly $25 million in operation expenses such as police and fire calls, said council legislative assistant Ashley Bunda.
Kauai County receives $13.7 million in hotel tax money and would like to see that doubled to $27.4 million.
The state Transient Accommodation Tax is a 9.25 percent surcharge on hotel rooms. State lawmakers since 2010 have capped the hotel tax share for all counties at $93 million. Kauai County’s share was 14.5 percent.
Boating rules may be tweaked
HONOLULU (AP) — State regulators are proposing changes in rules for commercial use of Hawaii’s waters but some businesses that offer surfing lessons and boat rentals say the industry would be better off with self-regulation.
There’s been a significant increase in commercial activity since boating rules were last revised 20 years ago, said William Aila, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“It’s time to update our rules so they are fair and equally applied to commercial operators operating everywhere in state waters,” he said.
The state wants to define insurance requirements, raise fees to register rental surfboards and standardize fees. The department’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation started the process for the department last week with a series of public hearings that have already drawn criticism from commercial ocean users.
Bus service for schools goes up
HONOLULU (AP) — The state Department of Education is reinstating bus service next month for 200 Oahu students whose routes were eliminated last year because of budget cuts.
The department says the restored service was made possible because of success with its “Get on Board” initiative.
Officials overhauled the public school bus system by using routing software and GPS tracking to rein in transportation costs.
The department also reformed vendor contracts as part of the pilot initiative. The restored routes will serve students at August Ahrens Elementary, Highlands Intermediate, and Pearl City and Waipahu High schools.
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