Debbie Hecht – “The 2% Land Fund is Now the 1% Land Fund”

Aloha 2% Supporters:

The Hawaii County council will meet on Tuesday, April 20th at 9:00 am at the Sheraton Keauhou. There will be video-conferencing from Hilo ONLY. The first order of business that morning will be Communication 687.1 REPORT FROM THE CHARTER COMMISSION .

The 2% Land Fund is now the 1% Land Fund (approximately $2 million per year) .

If this upsets you, please show up to testify or send an email to the county council and the Mayor.

PLEASE ASK THE COUNCIL TO RECOMMEND THAT THE CHARTER COMMISSION REINSTATE THE 2% AMOUNT

On the subject line be sure to note :

Comm. 687.1- Report from the Charter Commission about the Land fund.

<dikeda@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <donishi@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <enaeole@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <cohmayor@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <dyagong@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <genriques@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <bford@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <kgreenwell@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <jyoshimoto@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <phoffmann@co.hawaii.hi.us>, keoff@co.hawaii.hi.us

I’ve attached CA-15 which is the proposed legislation from the Charter Commission. You can scroll down to read the clauses that I think should be added to honor 63% of us who voted for the 2% Land Fund in 2006, to protect the fund AND the land that is purchased.

******************************************************************************************************

MY TESTIMONY to the HAWAII COUNTY COUNCIL- As you know the charter commission has been meeting since January. Many of the 2% supporters have attended almost every meeting. We are very frustrated. Over 100 people sent emails to the commission and at 100 people took time out of their busy lives to show up and testify in front of the commission. All of these voters testified about a 2% Land Fund, not a ½% Land Fund and not a 1% Land Fund.

We ask that you recommend that the charter commission reinstate the 2% amount, as voters approved by 63% in 2006. People in your districts are upset that you cut the 2% deposits for 2 years. This will be a campaign issue for the 2010 campaign season.

Please recommend that the charter commission include the following in their proposed charter amendment CA-15 The Land Fund:

The amount that shall be deposited at least twice per year shall be 2% of property taxes including penalties and interest.

The land Fund shall be an Interest bearing account. We heard testimony that the Finance department does this anyway, but unless it is in the legislation this is not a requirement.

Land Fund monies shall be used for acquisition only and not for development or maintenance of properties.

To protect the lands purchased by taxpayers money, we must have a clause to protect these lands from being resold. This clause that shall run with the land and be recorded as part of the Deed on all past and future purchases: “This property was purchased with monies from the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai’i County. This land may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.” This is necessary because we have seen that the State sells off conservation land in the regular course of business. Who’s to say that the county won’t start selling land to balance their budget? A good case in point is the sale of the Hamakua Sugar lands.

Mahalo-

Debbie Hecht

Campaign Coordinator, Save our Lands Citizen’s Committee

Commentary: How Did the Charter Commission Arrive at The 1% Land Fund (Approximately $2 Million per year)?

Commentary by Debbie Hecht:

Here’s the evolution on the Land Fund charter amendments:

  1. The Save Our Lands Citizen’s committee submitted CA-15 the 2% Land Fund.  This mirrored the 2% ordinance that is now part of the county code and is suspended for 2 years, until July 1, 2011.  This ordinance was approved in 2006 by 63% of voters.  Hawaii County is the only county that does not have a Land Fund section of the charter.
  2. Finance Director Nancy Crawford submitted Communication 105, which was patterned after Maui County’s land fund charter amendment.
  3. Then we submitted another compromise amendment, Communication 181, to the Finance Departments amendment, which included important provisions
  • The land fund account is interest bearing and is at 2%.
  • The land fund not be used for maintenance or developmen
  • Any bonds floated to buy Land would have to be kept separate so citizens could “watchdog” the expenditures for the bond to be taken from the fund.
  1. Commissioner Scott Unger introduced a floor amendment at 1% for the Land Fund, with some of the amendments that were included in Communication 181. Because it was a floor amendment, the commission or public did not have a chance to review it prior to its appearance.  Because it was a substantive amendment, the 1% Land Fund amendment will now be heard again for 2nd reading, next month.

The date of the next charter commission meeting is March 12th in Hilo, 1:30 pm.

At the charter commission meeting on Friday February 12th in Hilo, the amendments were heard for Bills at 2nd reading. The 1% Land Fund Bill will be held for a 2nd and 3rd reading because the Unger amendment was substantive.

PUT IT ON THE BALLOT at 2% AND ONCE AGAIN LET THE VOTERS DECIDE!!

TO EMAIL THE COMMISSIONERS and ask them to reinstate the 2%: “Karen Eoff” <KEOFF@co.hawaii.hi.us>

Here are some of the misconceptions  heard during the charter commission’s discussions:

That people voted for this in 2006, but because of the economic crisis people will not vote to set aside 2% now.

Answer:  Let’s see if they will. PUT IT ON THE BALLOT AT 2% AND LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE! In an economic downturn people use parks more, parks are free to get out of the house, away from the TV and spend time with family.  NOW is the time to buy land, at the lowest price in years, to maximize our land fund dollars.

Who does the commission represent, the Mayor, the council or the people?

Answer:  That is a good question.  They are appointed by the Mayor and are approved by the council.  I would hope that they represent “We the People”.

Where is the trust in government when the Council and Mayor suspend funds to the Land fund that 63% of us voted for AND then a citizen’s commission which is appointed by the Mayor  decides that 2% is too much and 1% is the right amount?

Answer:  It is difficult to trust government when they “disrespect” a mandate of 63% of the people.  We need to stress to the commissioners to put it on the ballot at 2%.

If we have the 2% Fund services like fire and police could be cut.

Answer- the Kenoi administration has 370+ jobs in the budget that are funded but no one is hired to fill these jobs. 370 jobs at roughly $40,000 per year is approximately $14 million per year.  There are plenty of places to cut the budget.  The 2% Land Fund will NOT reduce core services, this is not an either or proposition for the budget.  Just like your home budget, you prioritize and cut funds from things that are less important. The government is entrusted with our health and safety.

The county still has the 2%ordinance so the council can decide to fund the land fund for 2% of our property taxes after deposits to the fund are  reinstated in June of 2011.

Answer:  I doubt the land fund ordinance will ever be funded again.  The Kenoi administration brought forward the ordinance to stop deposits to the Land fund BEFORE the budget was even presented to the council.  The land fund was the “low hanging fruit” the easiest thing to cut. The Kim administration did NOT want the land fund and tried to use the fund for maintenance. So both of the past two administrations do NOT like the land fund.  Director Nancy Crawford said that they don’t like to have their hands tied by special funds.

If we buy the property and we can’t develop it why should we buy it?  OR We can’t take care of the parks we have now, why should we buy more?

Answer:  Now is the time to stay the course on land conservation as 63% of voters told us to do and take the long term view to save Hawaii County’s treasured places for  our children and grandchildren.  NOW is the time to buy!  Land is the least expensive it has been in years. The land does not need to be developed into a park right away, but can be “landbanked” and developed as funds become available.  Some land purchases should not be developed at all, like buffers, sensitive cultural sites, endangered species critical habitat or watersheds.

Maui, Kauai and Oahu have Land fund set asides of ½% or 1% of their property taxes, why should we have 2%?

Answer:   The other counties have more population and more properties to tax.   Half percent of Oahu’s taxes is $4 million per year.  In addition, most of the other counties are almost fully developed and have government land for open space.

WANT MORE INFORMATION?  Please call or email.

Mahalo for your help and support!

Debbie Hecht-  Campaign coordinator, Save Our Land Citizen’s Committee for 2% for the Land Fund

Debbie Hecht
P.O. Box 4148
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745
(808) 989-3222

Mayor Kenoi on the 2% Land Fund… Hunter Bishop’s Viddler Account

[viddler id=8be507a7&w=437&h=288]

Taken from the Hawaii County Website.

However, I just noticed that you can go directly to Hunter Bishop’s Viddler Account and view all of his recently uploaded videos there as well.

They have all been posted on the counties site so there is no big surprises… It’s just sometimes people miss things when it’s just a link and not something they can actually click to make a movie play… So I’m kind of suprised that he just didn’t embed them directly into the blog for easier viewing for people that aren’t as “Akamai” when it comes to going to links.