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Councilmember Ruggles to Introduce Proposed Property Tax Amendment

On Monday, June 5, at a Special Council Meeting, Councilmember Jen Ruggles will discuss her amendment to Mayor Kim’s proposal to raise property taxes through proposing an entirely new tax rate structure. She says her scenario will cause almost 88% of property owners to pay less taxes in the long run through exemptions compared to the Mayor’s plan, and balances the budget while not increasing the minimum tax, agricultural, and homeowner rates. Ruggles plan would increase tax rates and provides automatic exemptions for the residential, apartment, commercial, and industrial classes.

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Ruggles’ plan would amend Mayor Kim’s Resolution 213-17 which raised taxes in every class except affordable rental. He’s also proposed to double the minimum tax from $100 to $200 which passed it’s first reading on May 18th. Ruggles was the only dissenting vote. “Doubling the minimum tax is a hundred percent increase on the poorest of poor, including disabled veterans and non-profits,” said Ruggles, “I want to ensure the county is not putting the burden on those who can least afford it.” An increase in the minimum tax would cause the tax payment for up to 50,188 properties to increase.

Ruggles said she’s introduced this amendment because she is concerned that across the board increases on all property owners are regressive, and her plan protects low to middle range homes and businesses. For example, 1,548 businesses in the commercial class with property valuations under $456,000 would pay average of $215 less, when compared to the Mayor’s plan, according to Ruggles’ calculations.

Ruggles’ plan would increase residential to $11.7 per thousand with a $30,000 exemption, commercial and industrial to 11.7 with a 40,000 exemption, apartment to 12.5 with a $20,000 exemption, and increase hotel, resort, and conservation to 12.5. The exemptions, if passed would become effective next year. “This means that for the first year every business assessed under $465,000 would pay a little more, and then see a net savings after the second year when the exemptions take place,” explained Ruggles, “for example, Suisan, a local business assessed at $239,000, would pay $239 more than the rates proposed by the mayor for the first year, then pay $229 less every year thereafter.”

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For the apartment class, an apartment valued at $119,000 rented at Waiakea Villas would pay $136 less than the Mayor’s rate under Ruggles’ plan. However, a property in a Waikoloa Resort complex, valued at $421,200 would pay $70 more per year.

“The exemption system shields low and mid-range property values while allowing those who can afford it to pay a little more,” said Ruggles.

Ruggles amendments will be heard on Monday, June 5th, and testimony will be taken at 9am.

3 Children, 2 Adults Rescued in Kaiwi Channel After Boat Takes on Water

Five people are safe after being rescued by the Coast Guard off their 50-foot sailing vessel in the Kaiwi Channel between Oahu and Molokai, Friday.

Five people are safe after being rescued by the Coast Guard off their 50-foot sailing vessel in the Kaiwi Channel between Oahu and Molokai, June 2, 2017. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point hoisted three children first and then went back and hoisted the two adults bringing all five people safely back to the air station. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo/Released)

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point hoisted three children first and then went back and hoisted the two adults bringing all five people safely back to the air station.

A C-130 Hercules airplane crew and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Base Honolulu also launched and reported on scene.

“We are incredibly proud of all the crews involved and for their quick response time and successful outcome,” said Lt. Nicholas Spence, a command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Our crews are always ready to respond and I’m glad we could demonstrate that once again.”

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received notification from the operator of the vessel at 12:45 p.m., that they were in distress and taking on water with three children and two adults on board.

The vessel remains adrift with an attached strobe light. The owner will work with Sector Honolulu personnel to develop a salvage plan.  All personnel were wearing their life jackets and no injuries were reported.  Weather on scene was reported 25 mph winds and seas 6 to 8 feet.

Hilo Fish Company Recall After Hepatitis A Found in Frozen Tuna

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are assisting state and local officials in assessing the risk of hepatitis A virus exposure from contaminated frozen tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company, Vietnam, and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc., Philippines. If unvaccinated consumers have consumed the recalled product within the last two weeks, post-exposure prophylaxis may help prevent hepatitis A virus infection.

Fast Facts

  • On May 18, Hilo Fish Company began recalling tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. that tested positive for the hepatitis A virus.
  • While the CDC is not currently aware of any illnesses linked to these products, it is advising post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated persons who may have consumed the potentially contaminated tuna within the past two weeks.
  • The FDA is providing a list of establishments in TX, OK, and CA that may currently have potentially contaminated tuna in commerce to help alert consumers that may be at risk of the hepatitis A virus. Contact your health care professional if you believe you have been exposed to contaminated tuna.
  • The current recall resulted from follow-up after the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA of a frozen tuna sample, sourced from PT Deho Canning Co.,which tested positive for hepatitis A on May 1, 2017. The initially recalled product has been removed from circulation and the newly recalled frozen tuna lots were not shipped to Hawaii, but were shipped to the mainland U.S.

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?

Consumers may be at risk of contracting a hepatitis A infection due to the consumption of potentially contaminated frozen tuna distributed by Hilo Fish Company and sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company (Lots F5-6 Soui Dau Industrial Zone, Can Lam Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam) and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. (General Santos Fishport Complex Tambler, General Santos City, 9500, Philippines). The CDC reports no illnesses to date.

The FDA is collecting additional frozen tuna samples and increasing its screening measures and testing for imported seafood for these companies.

In addition, the agency has prepared a list of restaurants and other retail locations that received the recalled frozen tuna. The agency will continue to update this list as its investigation continues. To protect the health of consumers who may have eaten contaminated tuna and require post-exposure prophylaxis, the FDA has determined that it is necessary to make public the names of these businesses as part of the recall.

Background

On May 1, the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA that a sample of frozen tuna cubes from Indonesia tested positive for the hepatitis A virus. On May 2, the FDA contacted the Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC, a subsidiary distributor of Hilo Fish Company, to obtain additional information related to the positive tuna sample. Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC initiated a product recall because the affected product had been distributed to its customers in Oahu, Hawaii (U.S. mainland and other Hawaiian Islands were not affected by the recall). The state of Hawaii embargoed the lot that tested positive and the FDA confirmed the sample was positive.

On May 16, Hilo Fish Company notified the FDA that it had submitted samples of additional shipments held in its cold storage facility in Hawaii to a private laboratory for testing and received additional positive results for the hepatitis A virus. Imported tuna products from this facility were sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood and were distributed to restaurants and other retail locations in CA, NY, OK, and TX. The New York State Department of Health and the FDA verified that product shipped to New York was not sold to the public. The FDA’s investigation in connection with these firms is ongoing.

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Hawaii Governor Joins U.S. Climate Alliance, Will Sign Bill Aligned with Paris Agreement

Gov. David Ige today pledged to continue Hawaiʻi’s efforts to curb and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the Paris agreement, and announced that he will join the newly formed United States Climate Alliance. In doing so, the governor hopes to share information and collaborate with other states that are also determined to fight global climate change.

The coalition was formed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

“It is clear that the states will play a larger role in taking action on environmental issues, and Hawaiʻi will continue to be a leader in this effort. What we do now for the future of Hawai‘i can make a global impact,” said Gov. Ige.

Gov. Ige also announced that on Tuesday, June 6, he will sign two bills that address the threat of global climate change:

  • SB 559 expands strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris agreement.
  • HB 1578 establishes the Carbon Farming Task Force within the Office of Planning to identify agricultural and aquacultural practices to improve soil health and promote carbon sequestration in the state’s agricultural and aquacultural sectors.

“The Hawaii State Legislature understands the importance of taking action, and I applaud its work this session to ensure that we continue to deliver the island Earth that we want to leave to our children,” said Gov. Ige.

The governor’s Hawaii Sustainability Initiatives and the legislature’s actions are part of the Aloha + Challenge, Hawaiʻi’s statewide commitment to achieving integrated sustainability goals by 2030 for clean energy, local food, natural resource management, solid waste, smart sustainable communities and green education and workforce. Progress on this joint effort, which is aligned with the Paris agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is measured on the Aloha + Challenge Dashboard.