University of Hawaii Hilo Presents “Local First”

Truck Gets Swallowed in the Kauai Floods

Well if this truck was surfing… it would be a decent attempt to duck under a wave!

The following was posted by Jerry Yamamoto on facebook.

Governor Abercrombie Signs Disaster Proclamation for Kauai Highway Repair After Heavy Rains

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a disaster proclamation on Friday, March 2, authorizing the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin emergency highway repair work on Kuhio Highway near Kilauea town on Kaua’i in response to a partial collapse of a 15-foot-diameter culvert running beneath the highway.  Heavy rains over the past two weekends have caused erosion to the soil foundation on the ocean-side of Kuhio Highway near Mile Post 22.5, a thousand feet east of the Pili Road intersection.

“Emergency repairs are necessary for the safety of all those who use this popular corridor,” said Governor Abercrombie. “State traffic personnel are working to ensure that the North Kaua’i communities remain accessible to residents and visitors.”

The disaster proclamation for Kuhio Highway can be accessed at this link: http://hawaii.gov/gov/newsroom/disaster-emergency-proclamations

According to the state DOT, an average of 12,000 vehicles passes through the area daily. Traffic has been temporarily rerouted around the work zone using Kolo and Pili Roads as a detour.  Motorists are advised to follow all posted all traffic signage and to use caution while driving through the area.

State highway personnel completed site inspections last week and the design of a repair project is expected to be completed later this week. Construction is anticipated to begin in mid-to-late March. It will include the excavation of a section of Kuhio Highway approximately 150-feet-long, and replacement of the damaged drainage culvert as well as reconstruction of the highway pavement.

For the most up-to-date information regarding traffic contraflow in the area, please visit hawaii.gov/dot.

Major Gambling Ring Busted on the Big Island – 13 Arrested in Sting Operation

Following a half-year-long investigation stemming from citizen complaints, Big Island police arrested 13 persons for offenses associated with illegal gambling rooms in Kailua-Kona and Hilo.

Working jointly with the Area II Criminal Intelligence Unit, Area II Vice Section officers identified the owner of the illegal Kona establishment as 44-year-old Sergio Cabal of Hilo and his sole employee as 54-year-old Aaron Hiraishi of Kailua-Kona.

On Friday (March 2), officers served a search warrant at the establishment, located in Unit 105 at 74-5589 Alapa Street, and recovered 17 illegal video gambling machines, gambling records and $18,207 in cash. Both Cabal and Hiraishi were present, along with 10 individuals who were actively playing on illegal video gambling machines.

Cabal and Hiraishi were each arrested on suspicion of promoting gambling, possessing gambling devices and possessing gambling records.

The following individuals, all from Kailua-Kona, were arrested on suspicion of gambling: 33-year-old Annie Abraham, 33-year-old Fred Alokoa, 32-year-old Tilda Alokoa, 43-year-old Yun Choo, 41-year-old Gaius Ittu, 61-year-old Renell Kaupu-Kaialiilii, 51-year-old Marie Pai, 26-year-old Peter Palikshru, 33-year-old Shrue Tosie and 35-year-old Timothy Sigrah.

All 12 individuals were held overnight at the Kona police cellblock and then released Saturday pending further investigation.

Area I Vice Section officers served another search warrant Friday at a similar gambling establishment in Hilo located at 288 Kīlauea Avenue. There, they arrested Cabal’s wife, 38-year-old Ruth Cabal, on suspicion of promoting gambling, possessing gambling devices and possessing gambling records. She was held at the Hilo police cellblock overnight and then released Saturday pending further investigation.

Monday morning, Sergio Cabal was arrested again, this time on suspicion of promoting gambling, possessing gambling devices and possessing gambling records at the Hilo establishment. He was again released pending further investigation.

The Area I and Area II Vice Section are continuing this investigation.

Police encourage the community to report suspected illegal gambling by calling the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Pictures and Video of Kauai Flooding – Why Do Folks Cross Bridges that are Flooded Over?

Kauai is getting hit hard with rain… pictures and videos are starting surface of some of the flooding that is going on.

This photo was posted on facebook by Brittney Rivera :

Hanalei, Kauai. is flooded. This is Hanalei on there way to crossing the bridge. The only way they transported people to the other side. Photo by Britney Rivera

Why do folks cross bridges that are flooded over and potentially weakened?  Yes, I know… to get to the other side.

This video clip was uploaded earlier by Gabrielle Morris:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/peYwFEP_qlI]

Here is a picture uploaded to facebook by Mike Neal of a before and after shot of a valley on Kauai:

This is a youtube clip uploaded by a lady who was sent home from work because of the flooding:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/02uJOx4SQSg]

Puna ‘Ulu Festival Attracts Over 1,000 People

The first Puna ‘Ulu Festival took place this past Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Ho‘oulu Lāhui, the site of  Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School at Pū‘āla‘a, adjacent to the ‘Āhalanui County Park warm ponds in Puna. Despite island-wide rain, the weather at Pū‘āla‘a was clear, and the event was attended by about 1,200 people.

Kua O Ka La students serve a sumptuous buffet lunch prepared by Team Pai‘ea of Kamehameha Schools and Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division. (All photos by Craig Elevitch)

Over 800 people enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch donated and prepared by Team Pai‘ea of Kamehameha Schools and Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division featured ‘Ulu Stew (Beef and Vegetarian), Warabi and ‘Ulu Salad and ‘Ulu Bread Rolls.

Micronesians United–Big Island and Mau Piailug Satawal ‘Ohana demonstrated traditional methods of preparing breadfruit from their native lands.

Fourteen people entered the cooking contest with a variety of unique recipes—from ‘Aina Lasagna to ’Ulu and Cod Fish Salad. Winners of the cooking contest are as Ulu Quiche; 3rd – Celeste Aleah, Pahoa – ‘Aina Lasagna

Desserts:1st – Raven Hannah & Jeremy Lutes, Pahoa – Pūnana Cookies; 2nd – Eno Gerard, Pana’ewa, Hilo – ‘Ulu Custard Pie; 3rd – Courtney Spalding-Mayer Nakada Farms, Kapoho – ‘Ulu Ice Cream.

Best of Show: Raven Hannah & Jeremy Lutes – Pūnana Cookies

Healthiest Choice: Ann Kobsa – ‘Ulu Puri’al

Winners took home prizes including Tahitian Style Quilts from Kao’o Designs in Waikoloa and an assortment of gifts from Abundant Life Natural Foods, Hawaiian Force, Café Pesto, Sig Zane and Hawaiian Images of Aloha giclée prints from Suzy Papanikolas.

Many people were seen walking around with breadfruit trees they purchased and children had their faces follows:

Appetizer: 1st – Genji Nakada, Hilo – Breadfruit Chips; 2nd – Honey Burns, Pahoa – ‘Ulu dip; 3rd – Pi’ilani Chavez, Hilo – ‘Ulu & Cod fish Salad.

Entrée: 1st – Ann Kobsa, Pahoa  – ‘Ulu Puri’al; 2nd – Kua O Ka La School, Pū‘āla‘a,  – ‘painted in fanciful ways.

The public enjoyed cultural activities throughout the day—including traditional ‘ulu poi pounding with ‘Anakala Isaiah Kealoha, making poi boards from ‘ulu wood with Keone Turalde and tapa pounding from ‘ulu bark with Ka‘uhane Ben Heloca.

Chef Casey Halpern from Café Pesto demonstrated the preparation of an ‘Ulu Fritter with ‘Ohelo Reduction Sauce and Shirley Kauhaihao, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner from Kona demonstrated how to make ‘Ulu Taro Salad.

Uncle Keikialoha Keikipi conducted a ceremonial ‘ulu tree planting which commemorated the 10-year anniversary of Kua O Ka Lā PCS.

Kauhi Maunakea-Forth pounds breadfruit poi using traditional methods.

The Puna ‘Ulu Festival was sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Ho‘oulu Lāhui, Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School, Hawai‘i Homegrown Food Network and the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The Puna ‘Ulu Festival is a part of a larger statewide effort to revitalize breadfruit for food security called Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu. Lean more at:  www.breadfruit.info.

38-Year-Old Man Dies in Motorcycle Crash on Akoni Pule Highway

A 38-year-old Kapaʻau man died Saturday (March 3) from injuries he sustained in a single motorcycle crash on Akoni Pule Highway in the area of the 21-mile-marker in the North Kohala District.

The motorcycle operator was identified as Lance C.K. Pule, of a Kapaʻau address.

Responding to a 12:44 p.m. call, North Kohala patrol officers determined that Pule was operating a 2011 Kawasaki motorcycle and traveling south on Akoni Pule Highway when he overtook another vehicle in a no-passing zone, lost control and ran off the right side of the highway.

Pule was not wearing a helmet. He was taken by Fire Department helicopter to Kohala Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:31 p.m.

It is unknown at this time if alcohol or drugs were involved but speed was a factor in this crash. Witnesses reported that Pule was operating the motorcycle at a high rate of speed.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

This is the sixth traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared to five at this time last year.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 54-Year-Old Puna Woman

*3/5/12 Update* She has been located

Big Island police are searching for a 54-year-old Puna woman who was reported missing.

Dorothy Mae Sanger

Dorothy Mae Sanger was last seen at her Mountain View home on February 21.

She is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-7, 130 pounds with long brown hair and blue eyes.

Police ask that anyone with information on her whereabouts call Officer Corey Kaneko at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Mayor Kenoi’s Budget Message, FY 2012-2013

I’m re-posting this on my site as the Mayor’s site does not allow feedback from residents.  If you would like to comment on the Budget you can do so by clicking on comment:

As required by the Hawai‘i County Charter, submitted with this message is the proposed operating budget for the County of Hawai‘i for the fiscal year (FY) ending June 30, 2013. This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $365,293,348 and includes the operations of eleven of the County’s special funds as well as the general fund.

This FY 2012-2013 budget is $37,911,650 or 9.4 percent less than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. It marks the fourth consecutive year of our efforts to reduce the size and cost of government in a strategic and responsible manner that maintains critical infrastructure and public services. This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Collecting Less Taxes

For the fourth straight year, the County of Hawai‘i will collect less in property taxes than it did when this administration began in 2008. Tax collections in FY 2008-09 totaled $225.9 million and are expected to decrease to $198.5 million during FY 2012-2013. This continuing slide in tax collections has been coupled with years of cost increases in areas such as employee health care and retirement costs and unpredictable fluctuations in utilities and fuel. In short, it will cost us more to deliver the same services next year, and there will be less money available to provide these services.

Reducing the Size and Cost of Government

This budget represents the fourth consecutive year that we are reducing spending. Consulting contracts have been cut by more than $12 million since FY 2007-2008. Overtime spending is also being reduced by 38 percent during this same time period, for an additional reduction of $5.3 million.

This budget discontinues a subsidy for the West Hawai‘i golf program and phases out the lava-viewing program. It restricts out-of-state travel, cancels or delays vehicle purchases and the replacement of aging computers and software, and employee training has been deferred or eliminated.

Further, we have cut special counsel, trial aides and law clerks for the prosecutors’ office, reduced courier service, cut appraisals, environmental assessments and surveys, and reduced the workers compensation budget.

Two hundred twenty-two vacant positions have been unfunded during the first three years of this administration. Although it has been very challenging, for the upcoming year, we intend to again hold 222 positions unfilled and unfunded. Leaving these vacant positions unfunded will save the county $7.1 million. The total employee count for the County of Hawai‘i was reduced from 2,787 on November 30, 2008 to 2,586 as of February 29, 2012.

OPERATING BUDGET BY FUND

The following table describes the budgeted expenditures for FY 2011-12 and the proposed budget for FY 2012-13 for each fund.

(Amounts in thousands)

FUND

FY 11-12
Budget

FY 12-13
Proposed

Increase
(Decrease)
from FY 2011-12 

Percent Increase
(Decrease)

General Fund

$278,120

$274,594

($3,526)

(1.3%)

Highway Fund

29,267

32,773

3,506

12.0%

Sewer Fund

9,085

9,321

236

2.6%

Cemetery Fund

10

10

0

0.0%

Bikeway Fund

171

171

0

0.0%

Beautification Fund

154

158

4

2.6%

Vehicle Disposal Fund

2,599

2,588

(11)

(0.4%)

Solid Waste Fund

28,255

25,406

(2,849)

(10.1%)

Golf Course Fund

1,120

1,139

19

1.7%

Geothermal Royalty Fund

575

600

25

4.3%

Housing Fund

17,888

18,483

595

3.3%

Geothermal Asset Fund

50

50

0

0.0%

  

$367,294

$365,293

($2,001)

(0.5%)

REVENUES BY SOURCE

The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2012-13 revenues from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

(Amounts in thousands)

 Source

Amount

 Percent Of Total

Increase (Decrease)
From
FY 2011-12

 Percent
Increase
(Decrease)

Real Property Tax

$198,500

54.3%

($8,800)

(4.2%)

Public Service Company Tax

9,520

2.6%

420

4.6%

Fuel Tax

7,660

2.1%

969

14.5%

Public Utilities Franchise Tax

10,560

2.9%

1,235

13.2%

Licenses and Permits

15,859

4.4%

346

2.2%

Revenues and Use of Money & Property

675

0.2%

(510)

(43.0%)

Intergovernmental Revenues

62,554

17.1%

(951)

(1.5%)

Charges for Services

21,670

5.9%

44

0.2%

Other Revenues

8,315

2.3%

(34)

(0.4%)

Fund Balance Carryover

29,980

8.2%

5,280

21.4%

 

$365,293

100.0%

($2,001)

(0.5%)

REVENUE CHANGES

The major changes in projected revenues are as follows:

Real Property Tax. Real property tax revenues are expected to decrease by 4.2%, or $8.8 million, due to an estimated 4.0% decline in taxable values.

Fuel Tax. Fuel tax revenue is expected to increase by 14.5% to $7.7 million, as fuel consumption has increased over anticipated levels.

Public Utilities Franchise Tax. Increased public utility revenues are expected to result in an increase of $1.2 million, or 13.2% in franchise tax revenue.

Revenue from Use of Money and Property. Interest earnings are expected to continue to decrease for next fiscal year by $0.5 million, due to the low yield on investments, which is still reflective of the current economy.

Fund Balance Carryover. The higher projection of carryover savings is attributed to the cumulative effect of successful cost cutting measures for the past several years and additional spending restrictions in the current year.


EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION

The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2012-13 expenditures from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

(Amounts in thousands)

 

 

 Expenditures

 Amount

 

 Percent
Of
Total

Increase (Decrease)
From
FY 2011-12
Amount

Percent
Increase
(Decrease)

General Government

$41,459

11.3%

($1,750)

(4.1%)

Public Safety

112,658

30.8%

776

0.7%

Highways & Streets

22,151

6.1%

1,500

7.3%

Health, Education, & Welfare

25,456

7.0%

(396)

(1.5%)

Culture and Recreation

17,228

4.7%

(1,066)

(5.8%)

Sanitation & Waste Removal

33,799

9.3%

(2,654)

(7.3%)

Debt Service

35,250

9.6%

(5,965)

(14.5%)

Pension & Retirement

32,275

8.8%

1,412

4.6%

Health Fund

29,803

8.2%

978

3.4%

Miscellaneous

15,214

4.2%

5,164

51.4%

  

$365,293

100.0%

($2,001)

(0.5%)

EXPENDITURE CHANGES

Major changes in projected expenditures are as follows:

General Government

  • General savings in the proposed budget were achieved through many sacrifices across all administrative departments, from further reduction of travel, training and contracted services to reductions in supplies and continued postponement of equipment purchases. Fuel and utility costs continue to fluctuate, and the oil market will be monitored and budget items adjusted if necessary prior to the May submittal. Corporation Counsel’s special counsel account was significantly reduced, as was funding for Property Management land acquisition related services. Research and Development was able to eliminate some costs from the current year budget for APEC-related activities. The reductions in General Government expenditures touched all departments in this classification.

Highways and Streets

  • Highways. The Department of Public Works is earmarking an additional $500,000 for work on roads-in-limbo, increasing the budget from $1.5 million to $2.0 million. Additionally, Highway Maintenance division is budgeting approximately $1.0 million for new and replacement equipment for road maintenance and resurfacing.

Health, Education and Welfare

  • Social Services. Despite declining revenues and reductions in spending, the county’s budget for non-profit agencies will remain at $1.5 million in fiscal year 2012-13. We have protected this funding despite three years of budget cuts because of our commitment to the non-profit organizations that support the most vulnerable in our community.

Culture and Recreation

  • Parks and Recreation. The Lava Viewing program at Kalapana is being phased out, resulting in a savings of $300,000. Discontinuation of the West Hawai‘i Golf Subsidy program will provide a budget reduction of $500,000.

Sanitation and Waste Removal

  • Solid Waste Fund. Some repairs to facilities projects will be transferred to the Capital Projects fund, reducing operating expenses by over $800,000. Equipment lease expenses were reduced by approximately $600,000 as some financing leases were completed. Solid Waste and Recycling contracts for services were also reduced by a combined amount of over $800,000.

Debt Service

  • Transfer to Debt Service. The County will make its final payment on bonds issued in 1993, which will result in a reduction in the required transfer to the debt service fund for the budgeted fiscal year. Future transfers to the debt service fund will be higher as the County begins principal payments on bonds issued in 2010.

Health Fund

  • Health Benefits. This item represents the purchase of health coverage for active and retired employees. It is a binding obligation on the part of each of the counties and the state, and will continue uninterrupted next year and into the future to ensure that all public workers and retirees receive all of the health benefits to which they are entitled. This proposed budget includes $29.8 million to provide coverage to active employees and retirees, which will continue the current level of health coverage for all.

Miscellaneous

  • Provision for Payroll Lag. This item from the current year budget was a one-time provision to reflect the adjustment of pay days to fall on the day after a pay period ends, rather than on the last day of the pay period. The elimination of this item results in an increase to miscellaneous expenditures of approximately $6.0 million.
  • Provision for Compensation Adjustment. For the FY 2011-12 budget there was an expectation that County employees represented by HGEA would be taking a one-day per month furlough, however there was no final agreement, so a provisional account was established to reflect the expected savings. For the FY 2012-13 budget the savings are reflected in each department’s salaries and wages accounts. The elimination of this item results in an increase to miscellaneous expenditures of approximately $3.0 million.
  • Transfer to Self-Insurance. Due to current fiscal challenges and the fact that the balance in the fund is now at $1.2 million, no transfer is included in the proposed budget from the general fund to the county’s self-insurance fund, resulting in a $1.0 million reduction in this item. However, the administration is concerned about the possibility of new potential claims against the county and will re-evaluate the status when preparing the amended budget submittal for May to determine if a transfer is needed to cover potential or existing claims against the county.
  • Transfer to Solid Waste Fund. This budget reduces the general fund subsidy of the solid waste fund by $2.3 million. Total transfers from the general fund to the Solid Waste Fund to subsidize the solid waste management in the County of Hawai‘i will be $15.9 million in the year ahead.

Conclusion

I am deeply appreciative of the support and dedication of our hardworking county employees for their sustained commitment to reduce both the size and cost of government, and their willingness to do more with less. This spirit of cooperation and determination has enabled us to establish a balanced budget without having to raise property taxes.

We are especially indebted to the fiscal discipline and sound advice of our Finance Team. They have provided consistent and strategic direction throughout this very challenging, but rewarding process. The proposed budget I am submitting is the result of many months of cooperation and collaboration between all of our department heads and county employees.

In the months ahead, we will continue to work closely with our State Legislators to maintain the County of Hawai‘i’s share of the Transient Accommodations Tax, which is vitally important to maintain our balanced budget. We will also continue to work with our Congressional delegation to secure federal resources as we expand our transportation infrastructure and build important capital improvement projects.

We are cautiously optimistic that we will see an improved economy through growth in the hospitality, construction, and agricultural industries. Continued investment in the renewable energy, higher education, transportation, and science and technology sectors will, hopefully, lead to a thriving and vibrant Big Island economy and an improved financial outlook for the County of Hawai‘i.

We look forward to working with the County Council as we seek to maintain a balanced and responsible budget.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi

MAYOR