Resource Caregivers Receive Increased Board Payments

Families that care for children placed with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Service (CWS) Branch will receive a foster board pay increase, effective July 1, 2014. Called resource caregivers, families will receive their first increased payment in August.

Department of Human Services

To ensure that resource caregivers receive the funds necessary to provide safe, healthy, and nurturing environments for children awaiting permanent placement, the DHS requested a legislative appropriation of $8,502,936 in 2014. The budget request was passed in its entirety as part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 executive budget package.

“Hawaii’s rate increase is based on the DHS’ review of foster care rates and practices in 46 other states,” explained DHS Director Patricia McManaman, “and the benefits that Hawaii resource families currently receive in addition to tax-free monthly foster care payments.”

Children enter and exit the foster care system throughout the year. They can remain in resource family homes for days, months, or years in some cases. While siblings are often placed together, resource families also may care for two or more unrelated children.  In 2013, the average number of children per month in resource homes was 1,096.  In June 2014, a total of 1,156 children were in foster care across the State.

Representative Mele Carroll, Chair of the House Committee on Human Services, was a strong supporter of increasing foster board payments.  “The bill is a huge step forward to help support the foster families that are integral members of our communities.”  Her Senate counterpart, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland agreed.  “I am very happy with the passage of this legislation and am grateful to the Department of Human Services, Governor, Legislature, advocates and foster families for this team effort!”

The increase in basic board payment also applies to families eligible for adoption assistance, permanency assistance, youth receiving higher education board allowance payments, and to young adults who choose to enroll in DHS’ new program of extended Voluntary Care to Age 21.

Foster board payment rates vary across the nation. Hawaii based its new rates on an age-tiered system indexed to documented costs contained in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Expenditures on Children by Families annual report.   The monthly per child payment to Hawaii resources caregivers has been increased from a base rate of $529 to $575 for 0-5 year olds, $650 for 6-11 year olds, and $676 for children aged 12 and above.

Similar to other states, Hawaii’s resource caregivers also receive QUEST health insurance benefits for their foster children, difficulty of care payments, and a clothing allowance. Difficulty of care payments are provided to resource caregivers that support children who require more intensive physical, emotional, psychological or behavioral care and supervision, as determined by a treating professional.

Resource families also are eligible to receive special circumstances or events payments, designated transportation costs (school bus fare or private car mileage, local bus fare) that effect child placement or promote family reunification, and $500 per child per year for extracurricular activities, social activities, hobbies, and camp funds.

Reimbursable costs include attendance at authorized meetings, respite care and child care coverage, limited liability insurance training, and  enhancements necessary for the child’s growth and development (e.g. Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, community soccer, community baseball, community swimming, Boys and Girls Clubs).

To learn more about becoming a resource care giver or attending one of the statewide informational briefings, please visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/ssd/home/child-welfare-services/foster-and-adoptive-care/ 

Tourism to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Creates $124, 937,400 in Economic Benefit

Report shows visitor spending supports 1,476 jobs in local economy

A new National Park Service (NPS) report for 2013 shows that the 1,583,209 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park spent $124,937,400 in communities near the park. This spending supported 1,476 jobs in the local area.

The summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano from Halema‘uma‘u Crater continues to attract visitors to the park.  NPS Photo by

The summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano from Halema‘uma‘u Crater continues to attract visitors to the park. NPS Photo by Stephen Geiger

“We are pleased to again report a steady annual increase of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The ease of viewing the summit eruption from Kīlauea, the many free cultural and scientific programs, the re-opening of Volcano House, and the diverse ecosystem of native plants and animals that park stewards have worked hard to protect for nearly 100 years are part of what attracts people, and can be attributed to the increase,” she said.

Visitors from across the country, around the world, and from local communities statewide and island-wide, visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS – and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well.  We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities and businesses,” Orlando said.

The 2013 report reflects a consistent trend of increasing visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park over the last five years, as well as higher spending by visitors in local communities. In 2013, visitation increased 6.7 percent over 2012 (1,483,928 visitors), and spending increased by 10.2 percent ($113,376,400). The 2012 visitation to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was 9.7 percent higher than 2011 (1,352,123 visitors), and 2012 spending was up 17 percent from 2011.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the NPS.

The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).

The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i, and how the NPS works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

DOE Releases Income Eligibility Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price Meals

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is announcing its policy for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Copies of the policy are available at public schools.

Children from households with income at or below the following levels are eligible for free or reduced-price meals:

INCOME CHART: Effective from July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

INCOME CHART: Effective from July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out one application and return it to the school where the child is enrolled or complete an online application via ezmealapp.com. Applications for the current school year (2014-2015) are now being accepted. The application information will be used to determine eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials.

For DOE officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF must list the child’s name, date of birth, grade, school code and their SNAP or TANF case number and the signature and name of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list: 1) the names of everyone in the household; 2) the amount of income received by each person, how often the income is received and the source of the income; 3) the name and social security number of either parent/guardian who is the primary wage earner or the adult household member who signs the form or the word “none” if neither adult household member has a social security number; and 4) the signature of an adult household member.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, the DOE will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request for a hearing on the decision in writing to:

Name of Hearing Official: Glenna Owens, SFA Director
Address: 1106 Koko Head Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816

Phone Number: (808) 733-8414 or toll-free 1-800-441-4845

In certain cases foster children are also eligible for school meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for them, the household should contact the school for more information.

The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Announces 2014 Pualu Awards

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) recently recognized 11 individuals, businesses or organizations with Pualu Awards at its annual Installation and Membership Banquet at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

“Meaning to “work together,” Pualu Awards were established in 1979 to honor those in West Hawai‘i for their dedication and hard work in the community,” explains Vivan Landrum, Chamber president/CEO. Winners are tapped in seven categories and chosen by an awards committee from nominations received by Chamber members and the general public.

The Community Education Award honors an individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning. There are three recipients of this award: Kei-Lin Cerf of Kealakehe High School’s Life Plan Youth Mentoring Program, West Hawaii Community Health Center and Jack’s Diving Locker.

Kei Lin

Kei Lin pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Lifeplan pairs community volunteers with high school classrooms to learn about student’s individual values, dreams and goals. These mentors assist in turning these aspirations for students into action steps for success. Currently the program supports almost 650 students with the help of 32 volunteer mentors, 32 homeroom teachers and 42 youth leaders.  At the helm of this program is Kei-Lin Cerf, who, for the past four years, has taken this program to a new level through her innovation, dedication and hard work.

pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

West Hawaii Community Health Center Representative pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

West Hawaii Community Health Center was honored for its Patient Centered Health Care Home program that builds personal relationships through medical providers. These professionals bring education and coaching to high-risk patients with chronic diseases and significant health challenges. This program establishes an ongoing and long-lasting relationship that educates patients on how to self-manage their health care and improve outcomes.

Jack's Diving Reps pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Jack’s Diving Reps pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Jack’s Diving Locker has been offering educational programs in ocean ecology, marine life conservation and environmental stewardship for kids and teens since 1987. Jack’s educational Junior Programs include a six-week Sea Camp for ages 8 – 14 and a Keiki Sea Camp for ages 6 – 8. These camps focus on marine life education and positively impact the lives of many children in the community as well as our ocean resources.

The Environmental Awareness Award taps an individual or organization that exhibits sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices. There are two recipients in this category: David Chai and the Hawaii Wildlife Center.

David Chair pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

David Chair pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Chai has been active in pond and wetland environmental assessment and management plans since the late 1980s. His many projects include restoring water resources and monitoring marine life and water quality at Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Kaloko-Honokohau and Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Parks, plus the shorelines of Makalawaena, Awake’e, Kohanaiki and Kiholo. In addition, one of his projects, a water feature at Ke`olu Golf Course, received one of only two EPA environmental awards in Hawai‘i, and was cited as an example of natural filtration technology and its potential application to keep all Hawai‘i streams, lakes and oceans free of harmful pollutants.

Hawaii Wildlife Center Rep pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Hawaii Wildlife Center Rep pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The Hawaii Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization that specializes in the conservation of native birds and the Hawaiian hoary bat. It is the first organization of its kind exclusively for native Hawaiian wildlife and is the state’s only organization providing professional wildlife response services exceeding the national standards, including state-of-the-art care and rehabilitation to all species of native birds and bats throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In addition to wildlife treatment, it also provides rescue and response training and research assistance for wildlife response to seabird fallout and contaminant spills and avian diseases.

The Business Innovation Award recognizes a business or organization that is committed to improving or enhancing employee’s lives, or exhibits creative product development, marketing or customer service. The recipient is Interim Dean Farrah-Marie Gomes of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS).

UH Hilo Reps pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

UH Hilo Rep and Dean Farrah-Marie Gomes pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

In an effort to ensure the island has a viable workforce, Gomes was proactive in forming creative and innovative credit and non-credit classes and professional development programs to meet new workforce needs. The CCECS program worked with community partners to ascertain the training needs, identify curriculum and forge delivery partnerships to address those needs.

The Lifetime Service Award taps an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the community exemplified by their personal and/or business achievements. This year’s recipients are Gretchen Lawson and the late Guy Toyama.

Gretchen Lawson pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Gretchen Lawson pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Lawson has dedicated the last 18-plus years of her life to empowering persons with disabilities to live life to the fullest. Under her leadership, the Arc of Kona moved from near bankruptcy to a thriving, financially secure, effective and well-respected organization that employs over 100 individuals, who are offered opportunities for self-improvement and training. Outside of the office, the Holualoa resident has been an avid advocate for the disabled by participating in government and community organizations, including the Hawaii State Rehabilitation Council, the UH College of Education Advisory Board, the State Medicaid Infrastructure Grant Advisory Board and the County of Hawai‘i Community Alliance Partners.

pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The late Guy Toyama was honored by Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The late Guy Toyama was dedicated to improving the quality of life in West Hawai‘i. During his short, 42 years of life, his leadership in entrepreneurship, business development, education and policy illustrated his unmatched passion for inspiring our community to be more self-reliant and sustainable. Mr. Toyama organized dozens of conferences and workshops at the NELHA Gateway Center, hosted environmental films for the Kona Earth Festival and helped organize community events. He also helped build relationships between the County of Hawai‘i and Japan and was instrumental in the establishment of a sister-city relationship between KKCC and the Hatsukaichi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hiroshima.

The Visitor Industry Marketing Award is presented each year to that person or group who diligently works to promote the visitor industry in West Hawai‘i. Congratulations to Gerry Rott of the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon.

Gerry Rott pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Gerry Rott pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Since its inception in 1997, the number of participants for the Waikoloa Lavaman has grown from 83 to over 1500. Rott’s ingenious job of branding the Lavaman Triathlon series—including the signature petroglyph logo, website, merchandising, vendor exhibits, celebrity participants, creative sponsorship opportunities and ever changing event additions, such as the Friday Night Fun Run and Lavakids—keeps the event fresh and appealing not only to repeat participants, but consistently draws in new athletes, volunteers and sponsors each year.

The Culture & Heritage Award is given to an individual or organization that has exhibited, through its actions, practices that promote island traditions and preserves our multi-cultural heritage. This year’s recipient is Rick Gaffney.

Rick Gaffney pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Rick Gaffney pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Gaffney has undertaken leadership responsibility to promote island traditions and help preserve our cultural heritage by contributing both time and money to the preservation of Hawaii’s unique marine traditions and multi-cultural heritage. While the voyaging canoe Hokulea was in dry dock during preparation for its current worldwide voyage, Gaffney arranged for the donation of a $250,000 sailing catamaran to the Polynesian Voyaging Society to be used as a navigation and training platform. Upon the launch of Hokulea this year, he arranged for the transfer of that sailing catamaran to a local business here and supported the work of the Nakoa Foundation, to continue the training of Kona’s youth in the traditional use of Hawaiian sailing and fishing canoes.

Chamber Member of the Year recognizes the individual who advocates, promotes and supports the mission of KKCC through active participation on committees, events, membership and/or community service. This year KKCC honors Sharon Sakai.

Sharon Sakai pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Sharon Sakai pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The Hawai’i Island native has been very active in KKCC for 15 years, serving as a member of the Board of Directors for several terms and South Kohala Vice President, and participating on the Marketing & Communications Committee, the Education Resource Group and the Economic Development Committee. She has worked tirelessly as a behind-the-scenes volunteer by staffing KKCC events and offering support and guidance. As KKCC President/CEO Landrum stated, “I couldn’t imagine the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce being where it is today without the support and guidance of Sharon Sakai. She exemplifies service above self and is truly deserving of this award.”

Hawaii’s State Debt Now Represents 92% of the Average Taxpayer’s Income

Hawaii’s mounting state debt now represents $41,300 per taxpayer, the second highest in the country. This, according to Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab, which calculates the Per Taxpayer Burden (the debt remaining after all assets are tapped) for all 50 states.

income

According to Truth in Accounting, the five states with the highest Per Taxpayer Burden are Illinois, Hawaii, Connecticut, Kentucky, and New Jersey. With the average income in Hawaii at approximately $44,767, the Per Taxpayer Burden represents approximately 92% of the average income.

The continued growth of the state’s debt has caused some to ponder the viability of current spending practices and state benefits.

“Hawaii’s Taxpayer Burden is one of the 5 highest across the 50 states, and has increased every year since 2009.  Most of Hawaii’s debt is unfunded retiree pension and healthcare benefits, left for tomorrow’s taxpayers who may not receive services today’s taxpayers should have fully paid for,” stated Donna Rook, President of StateDataLab.org.

“It is time to face some hard truths when it comes to government spending,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Hawaii’s unfunded liabilities threaten to sink our future. We cannot pass such a burden on to the next generation, but must make the hard decisions that will ensure the fiscal health of our state for decades to come. I urge our state’s policymakers to put aside partisanship and embrace a ‘best practices’ plan of action that reduces our state debt.”

Rip Curl Opens at the Kings’ Shops

Kings’ Shops welcomes Rip Curl to its collection of luxury brand and boutique stores such as Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Sasha Hawaii, Tori Richard, Macy’s Resort Store as well as Michael Kors opening this fall. Rip Curl

Rip Curl is a major Australian designer, manufacturer and retailer of one of the world’s leading lifestyle brands for surfing and snowboarding sportswear and the accompanying products needed for participating in those sports, as well as a major athletic sponsor.

Rip Curl’s motto for surf wear is; “You can give surfers boards, wetsuits and eight foot barrels… and they still need something to wear when they get out of the water.” Everyone, from groms to grom-moms and dads, will be able to find what they need for styling in or out of the water.  For more information on Rip Curl visit www.RipCurl.com.

Kona Surf n’ Sandals Shop Opens at Queens’ MarketPlace

Just around the corner from ‘Anaeho‘omalu, one of the island’s favorite beaches, is Queens’ MarketPlace, a natural beach resource for visitors and residents alike. With the fresh addition of a new Kona Surf N’ Sandals shop, the shopping center adds another option to help sun-seekers put their best foot forward.

Kona Surf n' Sandals carries a variety of top name footwear, hats bags and more, at its new location in Queens' MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort.

Kona Surf n’ Sandals carries a variety of top name footwear, hats bags and more, at its new location in Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort.

Featuring Reef, Sanuk and Oofos footwear, DaKine bags, Scala hats and more, the new Queens’ MarketPlace shop specializes in quality products that offer style and stamina for the active island lifestyle. New products hit the shelves frequently—such as the latest BirkSun Solar Backpack to power up cellphones and other devices on the trail.

Owner-operator Robyn Purdum fell in love with the shop, and the island in the 1990’s, while vacationing from Idaho, where her family farms sugar beets, wheat, corn and other vegetables. She always made it a point to stop in Kona Surf n’ Sandals in the Kona Inn Shopping Village for the season’s Reef flip-flops to take back home. When she noticed a going-out-of-business sale one year, she had a feeling the time was right and became owner of her first Kona Surf n’ Sandals’ shop in 2001. The Queens’ MarketPlace shop is their second location.

“I enjoy the slipper business,” said Purdum, who travels back and forth to Idaho and Hawai‘i throughout the year. “It’s been a real learning experience… The products are fantastic and we have fantastic employees, too. If I didn’t have such a great crew, I couldn’t do it.”

Stacked practically floor-to-ceiling with the newest styles in casual footwear, headwear, bags and luggage for men, women and children, Purdum says they pack a lot of variety into the cozy boutique. “I want people to know we have great selection of products,” said Purdum. “And we carry a large inventory, so hopefully we’ll always have your size. We have great customer service, kama‘āina discounts and a terrific location here at Queens’ MarketPlace. Who could ask for anything more?”

Kona Surf n’ Sandals is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, please call 886-0898 or follow them on Facebook.

Since it opened in 2007, Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Beach Resort has earned a reputation among visitors and kama‘āina as “the gathering place of the Kohala Coast,” full of shopping opportunities, services and great food, along with entertainment and arts programs, movies under the stars and large-scale concerts in Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ Gardens. For more information, visit www.QueensMarketPlace.net or call 886-8822.

Proportion of People Living In Poverty in Hawaii Declines

One in four U.S. residents live in “poverty areas,” according to American Community Survey data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from 2008 to 2012, up from less than one in five in 2000. These areas of concentrated poverty refer to any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. The number of people living in poverty areas increased from 49.5 million (18.0 percent) in 2000 to 77.4 million (25.7 percent) in 2008-2012. The 2012 American Community Survey five-year estimates show a U.S. poverty rate of 14.9 percent.

Click to read full report

Click to read full report

While for most areas the percent of people living in poverty areas increased, some parts of the country moved in the opposite direction of the nation’s 7.6 percentage points increase. In Louisiana (-3.6 percentage points), West Virginia (-2.3), Alaska (-0.4), Hawaii (-1.0) and the District of Columbia (-6.7), the proportion of people living in poverty areas declined over the period. On the other hand, Arkansas (15.7 percentage points), North Carolina (17.9), Oregon (16.0) and Tennessee (16.0) had among the largest percentage point increases in the proportion of people living in poverty areas.

By state, according to the 2008-2012 figures, the percentage of people living in a poverty area ranged from 6.8 percent in New Hampshire to 48.5 percent in Mississippi.

Page 3 of report

Page 3 of report

The report, Changes in Areas with Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, uses data from the 2000 Census and the American Community Survey to analyze changes in the spatial distribution and socio-economic characteristics of people living in such areas. More than half of people living in poverty lived in a poverty area, and about 30 percent of people living in poverty areas had incomes below the poverty level.

“Researchers have found that living in poor neighborhoods adds burdens to low-income families, such as poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities,” said the report’s author, Alemayehu Bishaw of the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch. “Many federal and local government agencies use the Census Bureau’s definition of poverty areas to provide much-needed resources to communities with a large concentration of people in poverty.”

Other highlights:

  • In the 2008-2012 period, in 14 states and the District of Columbia, 30 percent or more of the population lived in poverty areas. In 2000, this was true of four states and the District of Columbia.
  • Of the people living in poverty areas in the 2008-2012 period, 51.1 percent lived in central cities of metro areas, 28.6 percent in suburbs and 20.4 percent outside metro areas. (In the report, the term “suburbs” refers to areas that are inside metropolitan statistical areas but outside the central or principal cities.)
  • Many of the counties with 80 percent or more of the population living in poverty areas were clustered in and around American Indian reservations (in New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota and North Dakota) or in the Mississippi delta region (which includes portions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas).
  • About 38 percent of all families headed by a female householder with no husband present lived in a poverty area, the largest proportion among all family types.
  • Blacks, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and those in the “some other race” category were the race groups most likely to live in poverty areas, at 50.4 percent, 47.8 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively. Whites, however, experienced the largest percentage point increase in the proportion living in poverty areas over the 2000 to 2008-2012 period. The percent of whites living in poverty areas increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2008-2012.
  • Employed people saw a larger increase in the percentage of people living in poverty areas than the unemployed over this period — 8.0 percentage points versus 3.4 percentage points.

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about all communities in the country. The American Community Survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.

Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation’s people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to “adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community,” and over the decades allow America “an opportunity of marking the progress of the society.”

Census Bureau Hiring Hilo Field Representative

The US Census Bureau is currently recruiting a Part-Time Field Representative in the Hilo area of the Big Island.

Testing and Interview Session will be this Friday at 10:00 AM at the Big Island Workplace Connection off Kinoole Street in Hilo.

Space is limited so call 1-800-992-3529 to reserve a space.
Census Hilo Job

Governor Abercrombie Signs 5 Bills Relating to Energy

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed five energy-related measures (Acts 106 to 110) that address solar energy device warranties or guarantees, the energy systems development fund, the Public Utilities Commission, modernization of the electric grid and a car-sharing vehicle surcharge tax.

Energy Bills

“We spend billions of dollars a year on imported oil,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Let’s keep our money within the state by investing in clean, renewable energy development that will reduce carbon emissions in the process, helping to mitigate climate change. These bills are critical to Hawaii’s future and demonstrate our commitment to a more sustainable state for our residents.”

Senate Bill 2657 (Relating to Renewable Energy) requires contractors installing solar energy devices to notify private entities that installation may void roofing warranties or guarantees and to obtain written approval and follow written instructions for waterproofing roof penetrations from the roof manufacturer, unless the private entity forgoes the roofing warranty or guarantee. The measure also requires a roofing contractor that waterproofs roof penetrations related to the installation of a solar energy device to honor the roof warranty or guarantee.

Senate Bill 2196 (Relating to Energy) reestablishes the energy systems development special fund that was repealed on June 30, 2013. The measure also extends the allocation of revenues collected from the environmental response, energy and food security tax, also known as the “barrel tax,” to various special funds from 2015 to 2030.

Senate Bill 2948 (Relating to the Public Utilities Commission) transfers the administrative placement of the Commission from the Department of Budget and Finance to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and clarifies its authority to concerning standard administrative practices, including operational expenditures and hiring personnel. The measure also enables the commission chair to appoint, employ and dismiss an executive, fiscal and personnel officer.

House Bill 1943 (Modernization of the Hawaii Electric System) amends the Public Utilities Commission principles regarding the modernization of the electric grid.

Senate Bill 2731 (Relating to a Car-sharing Vehicle Surcharge Tax) establishes a car-sharing vehicle surcharge tax.

Cutting Edge Local Art Company Attending Hawaii’s First Ever “Hawaii on the Hill” in Washington D.C.

Tiki Shark Art Incorporated, a Kailua-Kona based business and its principals will be among more than 25 Hawaiian based businesses to participate in “Hawaii on the Hill” a first ever, two day event promoting Hawaii and highlighting our State’s unique qualities and attributes on Capitol Hill. “Taste of Hawaii,” a reception showcasing our 50th State’s culture, food and arts is part of the activities. Senator Mazie Hirono, along with all of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation, will be the guests of honor.

Tiki Shark Executives with Vivian Landrum – President / CEO Kona – Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

Tiki Shark Executives with Vivian Landrum – President / CEO Kona – Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m so glad to see Tiki Shark Art Inc. participating in this landmark event,” said Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Vivian Landrum. “This is a wonderful opportunity for one of our members to showcase their creative and exceptional art designs and products while also discussing the challenges and impact small business has on the overall economy. I know they will enjoy meeting with our own congressional leaders as well as other lawmakers who impact decisions for our State.”

“We are so honored to be asked to participate in this event” said Abbas Hassan, Senior Vice President of Tiki Shark Art Inc. “and we are looking forward to exposing folks on the Mainland to the very special talents possessed by the residence of our Islands.”

“Hawai’i on the Hill is an opportunity to showcase our State’s key industries and spirit of Aloha on Capitol Hill, connecting leaders from Hawaii and Washington, D.C.” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “Mahalo to the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii for working with me to turn this idea into reality.” she added.

About Tiki Shark-

Headquartered in Kailua Kona, Tiki Shark Art Inc, has been quoted as of the “fastest growing Island Lifestyle companies in the State” by Honolulu Magazine. The company designs, imports and exports unique custom design Art and souvenir items including beach towels and other beach and Tiki themed accessories. It has recently co-branded with surf industry giant Body Glove International to include exports to the Gulf Corporation Counsel (GCC)Countries under exclusive license. The company take pride in designing and creating all its items locally on the Big Island of Hawaii.

To get more information on this topic or to schedule an interview with Tiki Shark, please call 808 989 7310 or e mail at info@tikishark.com attention PR Department.

Line-Item Reduction of State Budget Needed

Line-Item Reduction of State Budget Needed, Budget Bill (HB1700) and Bond Declaration Bill (HB1712) Not in Alignment

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, along with Attorney General David Louie and Finance Director Kalbert Young, announced a plan yesterday to address an inconsistency in the amount of approximately $444 million between the budget bill and the bond authorization bill passed by the Legislature that is preventing each bill from being signed into law.

abercrombieheader“The proposed solution is the most efficient path to resolving this situation without the need for any additional costs to the taxpayer,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “I have consulted with the Speaker of the House, Senate President and the Department of Education. Working together, we believe we can enter the new fiscal year with a functional budget.”

The Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Budget and Finance advised the governor that the projects authorized in the Budget Bill (HB1700) exceed the amount certified in the Bond Declaration Bill (HB1712).

“Due to legal issues, I have advised the governor that he would not be able to sign the executive supplemental budget bill for fiscal year 2015 in its current form,” said Attorney General David Louie. “In addition, once the budget bill is reconciled, the Bond Declaration Bill could be signed no earlier than July 1, 2014.”

The Department of Budget and Finance reviewed the appropriations and declaration bills and was able to identify that the sources of the discrepancies were in the areas of state educational facilities improvement (SEFI) authorizations, the Judiciary budget, standalone appropriation bills and lapsed projects.

“We were able to pinpoint specific areas that were omitted in the bills passed by the Legislature and have concluded that it will require the governor to reconcile these bills in order to begin the new fiscal year, which starts July 1, with a working supplemental budget,” said Director of Finance, Kalbert Young.

Working with legislative leaders and the Department of Education (DOE), Gov. Abercrombie’s proposed solution would temporarily reduce the general obligation bond appropriation of SEFI projects through a line-item reduction in the budget bill. The total amount of bond projects authorized in HB1700 will therefore not exceed the amount certified in the bond declaration bill HB1712. This would be predicated on the need that the Legislature make-whole the amount reduced from the SEFI authorization when it reconvenes in regular session in January 2015. The DOE confirmed that it will plan to minimize impacts on projects already in the queue. This will necessitate a degree of project management and coordination that was not previously anticipated.

Hawaii Applauds Obama Administration’s Climate Change for Power Plants – Rest of the Country Following Hawaii’s Lead

The White House today released new rules under the Clean Air Act governing what existing power plants must do to reduce earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.  These rules provide states flexibility to utilize energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as outlined in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), as compliance measures.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014.

Gov. Abercrombie applauded the new rules, stating, “Hawaii is at the forefront of responding to climate change through our Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which serves as a substantial economic driver while reducing our dependence on imported oil.  By building such flexibility into the rules, President Obama is encouraging the rest of the country to follow Hawaii’s lead in pursuing clean energy.”

New financial tools under development by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) to increase deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures are well-timed to empower the state’s energy consumers to contribute to greenhouse gas reductions through use of renewable energy like rooftop solar.

“Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization financing tool, or GEMS, will expand low-cost financing to clean energy solutions while helping the state gain credit for reducing carbon through lesser use of petroleum products to generate electricity,” said DBEDT Director Richard Lim.

Proposed by the governor in his 2013 State of the State address and signed into law later that year, GEMS is an innovative, clean energy financing program designed to make clean energy improvements affordable and accessible to Hawaii consumers, especially underserved markets such as low- and moderate-income homeowners, renters and nonprofits.

These new rules requiring carbon dioxide emissions reductions from power plants were issued pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  During the its extensive process to hear from stakeholders throughout the nation the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached out to Hawaii.  The state submitted a set of consolidated comments developed by the Hawaii Department of Health, Hawaii State Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and DBEDT regarding state plans to meet federal carbon emission reduction targets for existing electricity generation units.

Mark Glick, the administrator of the State Energy Office, acknowledged EPA’s innovative approach and outreach to Hawaii.  “EPA is clearly recognizing innovative policies like the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, by allowing states to utilize energy efficiency and renewable energy as greenhouse gas compliance measures.   Hawaii is able to comply with little or no financial impact on our businesses and residents by allowing our ongoing clean energy agenda to count for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Glick said.

Gov. Abercrombie added:  “Hawaii is working with the Obama Administration to align our state’s commitment to go beyond 40 percent renewable energy in the electrical power sector by 2030 and our federal and state policies to reduce our carbon footprint.   As a leading test bed for clean energy, Hawaii can demonstrate to the world how to stimulate our economy while improving the environment for future generations.”

The new EPA rules allow states to employ a range of measures to meet carbon emission targets, including renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. In Hawaii, numerous such initiatives are underway in the power generation sector under the umbrella of the HCEI.

Ongoing PUC dockets include those relating to energy efficiency portfolio standards, requests for proposals for renewable energy production, and interconnection matters. In addition, the PUC and DBEDT are working with the Hawaiian Electric Companies to better align the utility’s business model with consumer interests and the state’s public policy’s goals.

Seven Big Island Companies Finalist for Inaugural Taste Awards

Seven Big Island companies or individuals are finalists of the inaugural Taste Awards presented by the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA).

Taste Awards

They were nominated by members of the statewide HFMA and supporting organizations. The winners of eight different awards will be announced Saturday, June 14 on Oahu.

The finalists include:

  • Big Island Abalone of Keahole-Kona for Product of the Year
  • Big Island Bees of Captain Cook for Innovate Hawaii Manufacturer of the Year-Small Company
  • Glow Hawaii Inc of Waikoloa for Community Service Award
  • Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company of Kawaihae for Innovate Hawaii Manufacturer of the Year-Small Company
  • KTA Superstores with island wide locations for Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  • KTA Superstores with island wide locations for Innovative Marketing Award
  • Nina Tanabe of Hilo for Advocate of the Year
  • UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources for Supplier of the Year
  • In addition, FCH Enterprises for Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award. FCH operates a Zippy’s in Hilo.

Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) announced today that it will hold its first-ever Taste Awards to honor outstanding companies in Hawaii’s food manufacturing industry. Co-sponsored by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the awards will recognize individuals, companies and products that have demonstrated exceptional performance, innovation and contribution to the manufacturing industry and to the community.

The Taste Awards gala reception will be held on Saturday, June 14, at the newly renovated Pomaika`i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The event will feature a “Battle of the Chefs” where celebrity chefs will create signature dishes using locally manufactured products. Event attendees will indulge on several one-of-a-kind dishes prior to a formal dinner reception followed by the awards ceremony. Many locally made foods and drinks will be showcased as part of the evening’s festivities.

“We’re very excited to launch the Taste Awards,” said Byron Goo, President of the HFMA board of directors. “It’s long overdue for our industry to recognize the best of the best. There’s a lot of hard work and so many wonderful stories to tell about the local companies that produce the great food products found throughout Hawaii’s homes, stores and restaurants.”

Awards will be presented in nine categories, including:

  • Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Innovate Hawai’i Manufacturer of the Year (2): Large-Company and Small-Company categories
  • Start-up Manufacturer of the Year
  • Product of the Year
  • Advocate of the Year
  • Supplier of the Year
  • Community Service Award
  • Innovative Marketing Award

“We believe food manufacturing will be one of our state’s key economic drivers for decades to come,” said Richard Lim, director of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT). “Hawaii’s food manufacturers will invest millions of dollars over the coming years into their businesses. So we want to both congratulate and thank HFMA, its members, and this year’s finalists for their contributions to our state’s economy.”

According to data compiled by DBEDT, food is the largest manufacturing sector using local products as inputs in Hawaii, generating over $900 million in annual revenue for the state’s economy. HFMA’s member companies represent 30 percent of food manufacturers in the state including numerous kama‘āina companies and household names such as Hawaiian Host, Hawaiian Sun and Aloha Shoyu, as well as exciting new startups.

Tickets and sponsorships for the Taste Awards are still available. To purchase tickets call 422-4362 or visit www.foodsofhawaii.com. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts Program.

About Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association

Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association is a non-profit organization that was established in 1977 and is currently the only statewide food manufacturing association in the United States. With more than 125 member organizations, HFMA works to increase the understanding and appreciation of the unique flavors, quality and care that go into the production of Hawaii’s fine foods and beverages. For more information, visit www.foodsofhawaii.com.

Governor Releases $1.5 Million for Kahilu Theatre Improvements

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of $1.5 million in capital improvement grant funds for the Kahilu Theatre Foundation (KTF) on Hawaii Island.

The Kahilu Theatre photo by Jane Sibbett

The Kahilu Theatre photo by Jane Sibbett

Identified by the state Legislature, these funds will finance design and construction costs for improvements at the 33-year-old Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

“The Kahilu Theatre has not had significant upgrades or repairs since it was built in 1981,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “This grant will fully fund much-needed improvements at the facility, reducing its operating costs in the future and strengthening the financial sustainability of this artistic and educational venue for many Big Island communities.”

This project will repair or replace the 20,000-square-foot building’s roof, stage and auditorium curtains and scrim, auditorium seats, steps leading to the stage, and stairways and hand railings leading to the front entrance. In addition, the electrical system, sound system and Kohala-side restrooms will be upgraded at the 490-seat theatre. A new emergency generator will also be installed. Local contractors will be used for these projects and the majority of construction is planned for this summer. Jess Turnbull of Construction Dynamics has been hired as Project Manager, and that Rhoady Lee Architecture and Design has been engaged as lead architect.

Kahilu Theatre Foundation Staff, left to right: Tim Bostock, Managing and Artistic Director, Dayva Keolanui, Director of Marketing and Development, Molly Hui, Box Office Manager, Mimi Kerley, Board President, Alva Kamalani, Operations Director, Paul Buckley, Technical Director.  (Photo by Jane Sibbett)

Kahilu Theatre Foundation Staff, left to right: Tim Bostock, Managing and Artistic Director, Dayva Keolanui, Director of Marketing and Development, Molly Hui, Box Office Manager, Mimi Kerley, Board President, Alva Kamalani, Operations Director, Paul Buckley, Technical Director. (Photo by Jane Sibbett)

Incorporated in 1980 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, KTF is responsible for the management and operations of Kahilu Theatre. The mission of KTF is making a place where community, creativity and inspiration thrive. The facility presents a wide array of performances and events, including music, dance, drama, film and visual arts. The theatre will present a full 2014-2015 season, launching this July, which includes free public events. Various arts education programs for youth at KTF impact over 8,000 students each year.

“These improvements would not be possible without the committed support of our community, who wrote over 200 letters to the legislature, and the determination of Senator Malama Solomon. Kahilu belongs to the people of Waimea; with this grant we can look after the Theatre for present and future generations. We look forward to presenting an exciting 2014-2015 season under a roof with no leaks!” said Tim Bostock, Managing and Artistic Director, Kahilu Theatre Foundation

KTF has a 20-year lease for land and building from Parker Ranch. Kahilu Theatre was founded by Parker Ranch air Richard Smart, but is not funded by the Ranch.  Dutch Kuyper, President and CEO of Parker Ranch, Inc. commented “We are grateful for the grant from the State of Hawaii.  We very much look forward to many residents and neighbors rediscovering the Kahilu Theatre as a cultural, educational and entertainment centerpiece of Waimea town.”

 

Mayor Kenoi Submits Proposed Operating Budget for the County of Hawai‘i for 2014-2015 to Hawai’i County Council

Hawaii County Logo

Aloha Chair Yoshimoto and Council Members:

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 ending June 30, 2015. This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $416,915,831, and includes the operations of eleven of the county’s special funds as well as the general fund.

This FY 2014-2015 budget is $13,710,833 or 3.4 percent larger than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. This budget continues our strategic investments in county services and infrastructure to support our working families and businesses, while carefully controlling the cost of government.

We continue to see a gradual recovery from the past five years of budget challenges caused by the national and international recession. We are finally experiencing a measured recovery in property values, which allows us to address the new challenge of $20.9 million in additional employee expenses in the year ahead. Most of these costs are the result of public worker arbitration decisions and negotiated agreements that significantly increase salaries, wages, social security contributions and retirement obligations.

A coordinated effort by the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties and Hawai‘i Conference of Mayors this year helped to convince the state Legislature to allocate additional hotel room tax funding to the counties, and we welcome this assistance. This revised budget commits all of that additional funding to pay for future health care obligations for public employees.

This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Investing In Our CommunitiesFrom the beginning of this administration, we have developed budgets that limit spending, but also allow for targeted investment in our communities and our future. Through carefully selected initiatives we created or improved parks and playgrounds, built or rebuilt roads and other public infrastructure, and improved public services. Our primary objective has always been to make the County of Hawai‘i a better place for our families to live and work.We have used the county’s borrowing power and excellent credit rating to help stimulate the economy and create jobs during a period of low interest rates and favorable bid prices. In Kona, we answered residents’ calls for relief from traffic congestion by advancing projects such as the La‘aloa Avenue Extension, the Ka‘iminani Drive Reconstruction and the Ane Keohokālole Highway, and we will soon begin work on the Māmalahoa Bypass.  In Hilo, we are repairing downtown streets starting with the Kīlauea Avenue Reconstruction, followed by the Kamehameha Avenue Reconstruction project. We will continue in the months ahead with repairs and improvements to Ponahawai and Komohana Streets.

We have partnered with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, which has emerged as a critical component of our economy. Our university allows our young people to achieve better lives for themselves while providing a skilled workforce to help our island economy to grow and innovate. To help the university expand, we are advancing the Kapi‘olani Street Extension to open up lands for new student housing, additional classroom space, and to alleviate traffic congestion.

We are investing in parks, gyms, and playgrounds across the island where our families can engage in positive activities, and where our coaches can teach our youth respect, discipline, and teamwork. We opened covered play courts at Pana‘ewa Park in Hilo, and built the Kamakoa Nui Park in Waikoloa. We have added seven playgrounds islandwide, and will soon be opening the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter. We renovated popular recreational facilities such as the Waiākea Recreation Center, Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, Laupāhoehoe Pool, Kēōkea Beach Park, and Pāhoa Pool. We will soon make the largest investment in recreation in the history of the county by constructing district parks in Pāhoa, Waimea and Kona.

Despite the budget challenges of recent years, we continue to invest in alternative energy and agriculture because we understand those sectors are essential for a sustainable economy. We installed solar arrays on county buildings to reduce oil consumption and utility costs, and will use wind power at Lālāmilo to provide clean energy to supply water to our communities. We are encouraging growth in agriculture by investing in training and support for farmers, and provided 1,739 acres of county-owned lands for ranching and community-based agriculture at the Kapulena Agricultural Park. We joined in a public-private partnership to upgrade the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse and provide a new rendering facility to support our grass-fed beef industry.

At the same time, we have preserved funding for public safety and essential core services. We funded additional police officers for the Puna and Ka‘ū communities, and opened the new Makalei Fire Station. We protected funding for nutrition, recreation and other services for seniors, and preserved and expanded programs for our children and youth. We maintained county funding to non-profit organizations serving the people most in need in our communities.

Fewer Employees, Growing Costs

We want to thank our county workers for their efforts during the Great Recession, which was a time when people across our island made sacrifices. Many of our employees accepted furloughs even as overtime was cut and staffing levels in county agencies were reduced because of hiring restrictions. County employees’ workloads increased, but their hard work and dedication allowed us to continue to deliver essential county services and protect public safety.

During these many challenging budget years, the size of the county workforce declined from 2,787 in November 2008, to a total of 2,632 more than five years later.

Even with that smaller workforce, the new negotiated collective bargaining agreements will significantly increase our employee costs in the year ahead. Wages, salaries and fringe benefits including health care and retirement for all of our employees will increase in all departments by a total of $20.9 million in Fiscal Year 2014-2015, with most of that increase attributable to these new agreements.

County of Hawai‘i tax collections in the year ahead will be $8.24 million or 3.6 percent more than the amount of property taxes collected when this administration began in 2008. However, the combined cost of employee wages, fringe benefits and health care expenses has grown by
$31.1 million or 17.3 percent during the same period.

This year the Hawai‘i State Legislature agreed to raise the cap on the amount of transient accommodations tax that is distributed to the counties, and the new hotel tax allocation will provide an additional $1.86 million to the County of Hawai‘i. This revised budget adopts the fiscally responsible strategy of investing that entire amount into pre-funding future employee health benefits, also known as GASB 45. That allows the county to increase its contribution to GASB 45 to $6.09 million for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, which is nearly double the contribution budgeted for the current fiscal year.

Significant Changes to February 28, 2014 Revenue Estimates

General Fund

  • Real Property Tax – Revenue projections have increased by $1,700,000, as the result of upward valuation adjustments and a reduction in the tax appeal allowance.
  • State Grant in Aid – As the result of state legislative action, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) allocation to Hawai‘i County increased by $1,860,000.
  • Fund Balance Carryover – Carryover projections have increased by $770,000, which represents an increase in current year expenditure savings as a result of restrictions on hiring, travel, equipment and other spending.

Solid Waste Fund

  • Beverage Container Deposit Program – Revenue was reduced by $217,307 to reflect the revised grant amount from the Department of Health.
  • Transfer from General Fund – An increase to general fund transfer was included to provide additional revenue of $412,742 to meet the critical operational needs of the Solid Waste Division.

Significant Changes to February 28, 2014 Expenditure Estimates

General Fund

  • Police – Funding from the Hawai‘i Impact Grant is expected to increase by $129,000.  Additionally, funding is included for community safety programs.
  • Fire – Funding was increased by $320,000 in the Ocean Safety Division, for salaries, equipment and miscellaneous costs to support a pilot jet ski program.
  • Prosecuting Attorney – Additional staffing was provided to meet the increased demand and workload placed on office staff by changes in judiciary requirements, increasing the budget by about $186,000.
  • Parks & Recreation – Funding of approximately $180,000 was provided for staffing to accommodate increased parks maintenance responsibilities related to new facilities and to respond to increased use of existing facilities.
  • Transfer to Solid Waste – Subsidy to the fund has been increased by $412,742 to support additional recycling program needs and solid waste operations.
  • Transfer to Debt Service – Budget was increased by $291,793 based on anticipated activity on State Revolving Fund (SRF) funded projects.
  • Post-employment Benefits – Funding in the amount of $1,860,000 was added in the expectation of making a larger contribution toward the County’s unfunded future health benefits liability (GASB 45).

Solid Waste Fund

  • Solid Waste – The recycling program appropriation decreased $217,307 due to a reduction in the Beverage Container Deposit Program grant funding, and costs increased in glass recycling and organic recycling by $202,000.  Funding for cover material at the Hilo Landfill increased by $132,000 to ensure state Department of Health requirements are met.

Position Changes from February 28, 2014 Budget Proposal

This amended budget proposes 10 new positions and an increased time element for one position.

Department Position Title
Information Technology Information Systems Analyst III
Fire – Ocean Safety Water Safety Officer II (4)
Prosecuting Attorney Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Prosecuting Attorney Legal Clerk III (2)
Prosecuting Attorney Legal Clerk I
Parks and Recreation Park Caretaker I
Parks and Recreation Park Caretaker I (1/2 to Full Time)

Conclusion

This proposed budget represents a collaborative effort by our departments to address the growing needs of our growing population in a way that is both responsive and fiscally responsible. Our years of careful planning and conservative budgeting have positioned us to invest in our communities while maintaining core services and meeting our obligations to our employees.

The recent, modest gains in property values point to a gradual economic recovery, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the economic and budget outlook will continue to improve. We believe our efforts to promote renewable energy, agriculture and higher education are an investment in the future of our island. We will continue to invest in recreational projects to support our youth and families and to protect public safety, and we ask for your support in these efforts.

We look forward to working closely with the County Council to address our community’s new and continuing demands for public services while also maintaining a balanced and responsible budget.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

Demo Day – New Business Showcase at Imiloa Astronomy Center

Support Hawaii Island’s Startup Community

Join us on Saturday, May 10th at 1:00pm in the Moanahoku Hall of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for the first ever Hawaii Island Demo Day event.

Register Today

About the Event

The 2014 Demo Day New Business Showcase highlights some of Hawaii Island’s newest and most innovative companies. Meet the founders and learn about Hawaii Island’s growing community of Entrepreneurs. The event will begin at 1:00pm with a brief meet and greet followed by opening remarks. Hear from community thought leaders on our island’s economic development and the role new business development plays. Afterwards, our entrepreneurs will take the stage and present their businesses. We’ll wrap up the afternoon with snacks and socialization.

The Hawaii Tech Exchange, HITX, promotes the economic development of Hawaii Island through educational workshops and events to foster entrepreneurship. It brings together talented individuals and innovative businesses in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) community. HITX operates a membership directory for area businesses, students, entrepreneurs and individuals. It also hosts related special interest group meetings on topics such as software, design, writing, robotics, game development, app development and astronomy.

Hawaii TechWorks assists in the development of Hawaii-based high growth and high impact businesses. It helps entrepreneurs convert great ideas into successful businesses. Hawaii TechWorks operates a co-working space and hosts a monthly tech meeting that supports entrepreneurs in Hilo and the surrounding community. It helps companies succeed by providing technical assistance, business infrastructure and networking opportunities. Hawaii TechWorks is focused on fostering the emergence of a next generation of leaders, in facilitating the development of strong community ties through informal networking and relationship-building, in new job opportunities for local residents, and in community-based economic development.

Our Sponsors

HTDC High Technology Development Corporation
HI Growth InitiativeHigh Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) is a state agency established by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1983 to facilitate the development and growth of Hawaii’s commercial high technology industry. The State views high technology as an important driver in the diversification of Hawaii’s economy and one that provides quality, high-paying jobs for Hawaii residents.

 

The HI Growth Initiative is a State investment program focused on building an innovation ecosystem that supports entrepreneurial high growth businesses and creates high wage jobs for our people. The HI Growth Initiative provides $20 million of investment capital that will focus on the critical building blocks of an innovation ecosystem: entrepreneur development, research commercialization and the mobilization of startup investment capital.

Our Host

Nalukai Foundation

Nalukai Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 to support entrepreneurs and innovation in Hawaii. It provides mentoring services to entrepreneurs, helps connect founders and investors, and organizes community events. Nalukai’s mentors have years of experience advising startup founders and have mentored in some of the top accelerators in the country.

Get Involved!

Attend Be part of a growing community and learn about new businesses on Hawaii Island and the rest of the state. Register for Demo Day today.

Participate Gain recognition for your new business. Meet potential partners, supporters and investors. Demo Day is open to qualified Hawaii businesses. If you would like to present your business, please contact us at: demo@hitx.co

Sponsor Help our local economy grow by supporting events like this. We have a variety of sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in sponsoring this or other events, please contact us at: sponsors@hitx.co

Restricted Access to Electronic Welfare Benefits

Effective February 2014, Temporary Assistance for Need Family (TANF) recipients are restricted from withdrawing their cash benefits at certain types of businesses.

Strip Clubs are no longer allowed to accept

LOL… Folks can’t take out their welfare benefits at strip clubs!

Restricted points of access include automated teller machines (ATM) or point of sale (POS) terminals at liquor stores, casinos, and gaming establishments.  Retail establishments that provide adult-oriented entertainment (performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment) also are restricted locations.

Click to view Statewide locations

Click to view Statewide locations

The policy is an outcome of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-96).   The law was enacted in 2012, but States were given time to determine how to best impose the restriction.  Hawaii came into compliance this year.

The TANF program provides monthly cash benefits to families for food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials. The federally funded program is designed to help families achieve financial self -sufficiency.  Grocery stores and retailers that primarily sell products other than liquor, and restaurants, bars or clubs that serve liquor are exempt from the restriction.

For the purposes of accessing TANF cash benefits, liquor stores are defined as retailers that exclusively or primarily sell liquor.  Gaming establishments mean establishments with a primary purpose of accommodating the wagering of money.  These restrictions have been imposed nationwide.

To qualify for TANF benefits, a family must include children under the age of 19 and earn a total gross income under 185% of the 2006 Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For a household of three persons, that’s a monthly gross income less than $2,941; if the household includes an employable adult net income must be under $610. In households where all adults are disabled, care is required for a disabled household member, or there is a child younger than six months of age, the net income must be under $763 per month.  Effective April 18, 2013, assets were disregarded from the eligibility determination.

Restricted Hawaii Points of Sale

Active Licenses with Nudity (4-14)

Statewide Active Licenses with Liquor (4-14)

Grassroot Institute ‘Celebrates’ Hawaii’s Tax Freedom Day

In an effort to help Hawaii’s citizens better understand the state tax burden, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is wishing them all a “Happy Tax Freedom Day” today via social media.

Tax Freedom Day
Based on calculations by theTax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day is the day when taxpayers have collectively earned enough to satisfy the tax bill for that year. In other words, for the average Hawaii citizen, if he or she had dedicated every penny of their earnings to their tax bill from the beginning of the year, then today (April 15th) would be the day that bill would be “paid off.”

Hawaii ranks in the middle of the pack for state Tax Freedom Days. Louisiana has the lowest burden (their Tax Freedom Day was March 30th), while Connecticut and New Jersey are the highest (May 9th). The National Tax Freedom Day (using figures from the country as a whole) is on April 21st, three days later than last year–which reflects the slow economic recovery. (As a point of comparison, consider that Tax Freedom Day in the year 1900 would have fallen on January 22nd.)

“Hawaii’s economic recovery has a lot to do with our better-than-average performance,” stated Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “However, we’ve taken a small step backward and should be wary of policies that will increase the tax burden and slow our economic growth.”

“Most people don’t realize just how hard and long they work to pay their tax bill,” Dr. Akina continued. “We hope that this helps put that into perspective and encourages taxpayers to demand greater fiscal responsibility and accountability from the government and their elected officials.”

Big Island to Launch Global Virtual Studio Transmedia Accelerator

Beginning April 11th, 2014 Global Virtual Studio (GVS), in partnership with the County of Hawaii and the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC), and Creative Industries Division (CID) is set to launch the GVS Transmedia Accelerator.

Hawaii entrepreneurs in the creative industries are often forced to take their talents outside of Hawaii to create intellectual property (IP), only for it to be owned by someone else. The traditional Hollywood model is being challenged by the accelerator model, a disruptive concept empowering the creative entrepreneur to own their IP.

This cutting-edge initiative will empower Hawaii’s creative minds to realize and launch original transmedia franchises for commercial audiences with an investment of $50,000 and mentorship to each selected startup franchise.

Accelerator

The founder of the GVS Transmedia Accelerator is Big Island raised and Konawaena High School graduate, David L. Cunningham, a seasoned filmmaker in both independent and studio arenas. Cunningham made one of Hawaii‘s first independent films, “Beyond Paradise,” as well as the World War II drama “To End All Wars,” starring Kiefer Sutherland, filmed on Kaua’i. Cunningham says, “As a studio filmmaker I was constantly trying to find ways to live and work in the Islands. My wife and I wanted to raise our kids in the same environment we were fortunate to have. Dramatic shifts in the entertainment industry have now made it possible for myself and other filmmakers to work from our home state.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi stated, “The Accelerator Program will be the anchor activity of Honua Studios, newly established in Kailua-Kona with support from the Hawaii County Council. We envision this new facility being a creative hub to attract and support entrepreneurs and industry professionals and increase the number of productions here on Hawaii.”

The Accelerator is part of a surge of activity supported by the HI Growth Initiative (led by HSDC President, Karl Fooks) and Chief Officer of CID, Georja Skinner. Programs like Blue Startups, Hawai’i International Film Festival’s (HIFF) Creative Labs and more are designed to create a synergistic environment statewide.

The GVS Transmedia Accelerator will accept six entrepreneurial teams into the intensive program each year and will provide them with the seed capital and world-class mentors to develop their startup franchises into successful businesses. The goal is to see the best up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Hawaii reach their potential right here in the state.

Cunningham and several other active innovators, including Ralph Winter (Producer of “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” movies); Mike Frank (Co-founder of Level 3 Communications) and Grant Curtis (Producer of the “Spider-Man” Trilogy, “Oz: The Great and Powerful”) and others will serve as advisors.

The application period for the Program begins April 11th and the Accelerator is slated to launch its first cycle in June 2014. Qualifying applicants must have a commercially viable startup with at least three revenue-generating media platforms. For more information, contact accel(at)globalvirtualstudio(dot)com or visit http://www.globalvirtualstudio.com.