What the Hecht? Debbie Hecht on the 2% Charter Amendment

Debbie Hecht

Debbie Hecht

Guest Commentary by Debbie Hecht:

Council member Brenda Ford will be proposing   CHANGES to the THE OPEN SPACE CHARTER AMENDMENT to be heard on September 7  in Hilo, at the 2:30 Finance Committee. The next time will be September 21st  in Kona, October 5 in Hilo and October 19 in Kona.

SAVE THESE DATES TO TESTIFY-If the charter amendment fails at first reading the matter is finished so please show up for the committee hearing and the 1st reading. we will keep you posted!

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO GET THIS ON THE BALLOT FOR 2012—-It is required to get this proposed charter amendment through the committee and 3 readings to get this on the ballot to let the voters decide ONCE AGAIN.

Charter amendments need 6 council members to vote YES

so please Ask THE COUNCIL MEMBERS:    Let the people decide at the polls in 2012 whether or not to make deposits of 2% of our property taxes to the land fund.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP to secure 6 VOTES:

**   Call and email the council members:  Cut and paste the following email list:

<bsmart@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <dikeda@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <donishi@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <fblas@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <jyoshimoto@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <wkenoi@co.hawaii.hi.us>, “Brenda Ford” <bford@co.hawaii.hi.us>, “Dominic Yagong” <dyagong@co.hawaii.hi.us>, “Pete Hoffmann” <phoffmann@co.hawaii.hi.us>, “Pilago, Angel” <apilago@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us>,

Click here to find the council members PHONE numbers:

http://www.hawaii-county.com/council/districts.htm

WHY DO WE NEED A 2% CHARTER AMENDMENT?

1.       WE will be assured that 2% of our property taxes will be deposited each year at budget time.  Remember the Mayor and Council suspended deposits to the fund from 2009 to 2o11, which meant we did not have $8 million to acquire land during that time. They would be required by law to deposit the 2% amount.  AND they cannot change the law!

2.            Charter amendments can only be changed by a vote of the people, not the council or Mayor.

3.            Remember 2% of our property taxes is approximately $4 million per year. The great “gift” of the land fund is to obtain matching funds.  $4 million becomes $8 million if the county gets dollar-for-dollar matching funds. So far the county has obtained $2.145 in matching funds.

4.            There are still MANY properties our communities want to acquire – see the list below compiled from the Public Access and Open Space Commission’s recommended List of properties sent to the Mayor further down in this article.

5.            With a 2% charter amendment in place we won’t waste citizens time in going to council meetings during budget hearings to testify AND we won’t waste council member’s time having to listen to testimony.

 

DIDN’T WE ALREADY VOTE ON THIS?  Yes, twice!! Once in 2006 as an ordinance for 2% of our property taxes to be set aside, which was later suspended by the council and Mayor.  Again, in 2010  for a 1% charter amendment which is only for $2 million per year.  57% of us voted twice to support these measures!!

 Properties Acquired by the County since 2006* costing Hawaii County $11,297,000:

1.       Waipio Look out for  $902,145. (Hamakua Coast)   (No matching funds)

2.            Kawa Bay (Puna)  $1.9 million County with $1.2 from the State Legacy Lands and funds from US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the endangered Hawksbill Turtle

3.            Kaiholena North (Kohala)   $6.55 million with no matching funds

4.            Pao’o  (Kohala)  $945, 000.00 with $945,000. From NOAA

2% Land Fund Top Picks by the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

SUSPENDING DEPOSITS TO THE FUND: As you can see there are still many properties to be acquired, costing millions of dollars.  The county’s suspending deposits to the fund for two years  (2009-2100) really slowed down the acquisition program.

The following properties were on the Commission’s recommended list to the Mayor from 2001-2010, but have not been acquired. 

Pohoiki Bay  (Puna), Keawenui Access Easement  (Kohala), Hamakua Springs Agricultural Conservation Easement (Hamakua), Hapu‘u to Kapanai‘a Cultural Corridor (North Kohala), Kawa  (Ka’u), Kingman Trust (Kona), Kahuku Coastal Property (Ka’u), Kaiholena-south  (Kohala), Kukuipahu-Ha‘ena Corridor (Kohala), Mahukona  (Kohala), Honolulu Landing (Puna), Wai’ele  (Puna), Puapua’a (Kona), O’oma II (Kona)

* The Open Space Commission’s Annual Reports and the Financial Data can be found at

http://www.hawaii-county.com/finance/ponc.htm

To be PROPOSED by Council member Brenda Ford:

Bill 87 Draft 1-

The 2% for the Land Fund Charter Amendment

Changes are highlighted to the existing charter amendment are in yellow.

(Note: stricken or crossed out material is from the existing charter amendment that is to be changed, underlined material is new material to change the existing charter amendment)

AN ORDINANCE TO INITIATE A CHARTER AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE X, FINANCIAL PROCEDURES, SECTION 10 -15, OF THE HAWAII COUNTY CHARTER (2010 EDITION), REGARDING THE PUBLIC ACCESS, OPEN SPACE, AND NATURAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION FUND.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. Article X, Financial Procedures, Section 10 -15, of the Hawai`i County

Charter (2010 Edition), relating to the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund, is amended to read as follows:

Section 10 -15. Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund.

a) In adopting each fiscal year’ s operating budget [and capital program], the council shall appropriate a minimum of [one] two percent of the certified real property tax revenues, including penalty and interest, to a fund known as the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund. Deposits to the fund shall occur at a minimum, on a quarterly basis.

b) Funding shall consist of a minimum of [one] two percent of actual revenue received in the fiscal year. Additional revenue may consist of grants and private contributions intended for the purpose of this section, voluntary contributions of any amount as specified on the real property tax bill, proceeds from the sale of general obligation bonds authorized and issued for the purpose of this section, council appropriations for the purpose of this section, [and grants and private contributions intended for the purpose of this section,] and any other source of revenue.

c) Monies in this fund shall be used solely to:

1) Purchase or otherwise acquire lands [or property entitlement:] and easements in the County of Hawaii for public outdoor recreation and education, including:

A) Access to beaches and mountains;

B) Preservation of historic or culturally important land areas and sites;

C) Protection of natural resources, significant habitat or eco- systems, including buffer zones;

D) Protection of watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply.

(2) Pay the principal, interest and premium, if any, due with respect to bonds issued in whole for the purpose of this fund.

d) Any balance remaining in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall not lapse, but shall remain in the fund accumulating interest from year to year. The moneys in this fund shall not be used for any purpose except those listed in this section.

e) The council shall by ordinance establish procedures for the administration and expenditure of moneys in this fund.

f) This fund shall be used for acquisition of land and easements and shall not be used for development, maintenance or for any purpose other than as provided in this section.

g) The highest and best use of this fund is to leverage the money in the fund by attracting matching funds, although, matching funds are not required in every purchase.

h) Any land acquired with this fund shall contain the following restrictive covenant in its recorded deed of conveyance: ” This land was acquired with moneys from the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai` i County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.”

i) Any easement acquired with this fund shall contain the following restrictive covenant in its recorded deed of conveyance: ” This easement was acquired with moneys from the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai` i County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.”

SECTION 2. Charter material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New charter material is underscored. When revising, compiling, or printing these charter provisions for inclusion in the Charter of the County of Hawai` i, the reviser need not include the brackets, bracketed material, or underscoring.

SECTION 3. If any provision of this ordinance, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the ordinance, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are severable.

SECTION 4. Upon adoption of this ordinance, this council, by appropriate resolution,

Shall provide that this amendment be submitted to the electorate of Hawaii County for approval in the 2012 general election.

SECTION 5. The charter amendment proposed in this ordinance shall take effect upon its approval by a majority of voters voting on this legislation in the 2012 General Election, as duly certified. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), proration of the deposits affected by this legislation shall begin on November 7, 2012.

Please call with questions:

Debbie Hecht

Campaign Coordinator, Save Our Lands Citizens Committee

 

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