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Business Briefs

For Friday, June 17, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:09 a.m. HST, Jun 17, 2011

Hawaiian Tel retail stores closing

Hawaiian Telcom, the state's largest telephone company, will close its five retail stores to cut costs. The three stores on Oahu and one each on Maui and Hawaii island will be shuttered in late July or early August. As previously reported, Hawaiian Tel is cutting 103 positions, including the staff of its retail stores, and adding about 60 new positions. Hawaiian Tel, which emerged from bankruptcy last fall, has lost more than 200,000 land-line accounts, or 32 percent of its total, in the past five years as more people switch to using mobile phones only.

Fitch lowers Hawaii’s credit rating

Fitch Ratings agency downgraded Hawaii’s general obligation bonds to AA from AA+, citing the state’s depletion of previously large balances, its long-term liabilities and dependence on the tourism industry.

A lower bond rating can lead to higher borrowing costs, which adds to the taxpayer’s burden.

Fitch said in a news release Wednesday that the state had a positive general and reserve fund balance of $785.8 million in fiscal 2006. That positive balance was mostly gone by fiscal 2009 and had turned negative by 2010, the agency said.

“The state closed the (2009) fiscal year with a negative ending balance of $36.8 million after accounting for an overstatement of certain tax revenues, though $60.4 million remained in the reserve fund and approximately $180 million was available in the separate Hurricane Relief Fund,” Fitch said.

“Despite delaying the payment of income tax refunds to be paid in fiscal 2010 into fiscal 2011 and a $57 million draw from the Hurricane Relief Fund, which was not previously expected to be drawn upon, the state ended fiscal 2010 in a negative position,” Fitch said.

The agency also noted the state is not contributing as much to fund its pension liability as it did a decade ago.

“Funding levels for Hawaii’s pension system remain a concern, with reported funded ratios having declined from 95 percent in 2000 to 61.4 percent as of June 30, 2010, and the unfunded liability exceeding $7.1 billion,” Fitch said.

Navy awards contracts for isle projects

Honolulu’s AMEC-Nan Joint Venture LLC has received a $25.5 million construction contract, the U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday.

The joint venture will design and build a low-rise indoor fitness center and support facilities at Camp Smith and repair and improve an existing athletic field at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

Work is expected to be completed by March 2013. Four proposals were received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, the contracting agency.

In addition, Honolulu-based dck/TtEC LLC received a $17.9 million contract to design and build a storage facility at Pearl City Peninsula.

The contract also calls for the renovation of Building 55 at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.

The order also contains two options which, if exercised, would increase the contract’s value to $20.1 million. That project is expected to be completed by January 2013. Three proposals were received by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii.

Maui Electric wind deal gets state OK

The state Public Utilities Commission has approved a 20-year contract for Maui Electric Co. to purchase 21 megawatts of wind power from Sempra Generation’s Auwahi Wind project on Ulupalakua Ranch in southeastern Maui.

The project is currently undergoing environmental review by Maui County, the state and federal agencies. Upon approvals, construction on Auwahi Wind is targeted to begin in early 2012. Construction is expected to take about one year, creating approximately 150 construction jobs at peak and five full-time positions to operate the facility.

Union to boycott Hyatt Waikiki today

Unite Here Local 5 workers are planning a boycott and rally over labor negotiations at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. today on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. The union, which is seeking an end to subcontracting, received support from 89 percent of its members to authorize a consumer boycott of the hotel in voting on June 8.

Union contracts for more than 500 workers at the hotel expired June 30.

SHIP AHOY

Today’s ship arrivals and departures:
HONOLULU HARBOR
Agent Vessel From ETA ETD Berth Destination
MNC Mahimahi -- -- 1:30 p.m. 52A Oakland, Calif.
ISS NYK Laura Mexico 3 p.m. -- 01A --

ON THE MOVE

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has named Rix Maurer III as director of contracts and benefits administration. His experience in health care finance includes work as director of budget and fiscal services for the City and County of Honolulu under the Hannemann administration and 20 years at the Queen’s Medical Center as vice president of finance, chief financial officer and treasurer.

***

The University of Hawaii Cancer Center has announced the following new hires:

» Dr. Carol Boushey as nutritionist with the epidemiology program. She was previously associate professor at the department of foods and nutrition, Purdue University.

» Dr. Pebbles Fagan as director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program. She was previously a health scientist at the National Cancer Institute’s Tobacco Control Research branch.

» Dr. Amy Powers as director of pathology. She was previously at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the department of pathology, division of transfusion medicine.

***

Friends of Hawaii Charities has awarded a $4,000 grant to the USS Missouri Memorial Association. Funding will benefit education programs for Hawaii K-12 Title 1 students including outreach programs, overnight encampments and school field trips with activities focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Friends of Hawaii Charities is a collaboration of Hawaii business and community leaders to generate funding for Hawaii’s nonprofit organizations’ programs.






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