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Rail update

Mayor Mufi Hannemann met yesterday in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to discuss federal funding for Honolulu’s rail transit project.

Congress has appropriated $65 million in federal funding for the $5.5 billion project so far. Construction of the 20-mile elevated rail has been delayed by a review of the project’s environmental effects.


Tax collections on the upswing

State tax collections continue to improve as the economy moves toward recovery.

The state Department of Taxation reported yesterday that tax revenue is up 1.8 percent through the first 11 months of the fiscal year. The actual collections through May are higher than projected by the state Council on Revenues, which predicted 0.5 percent growth for the fiscal year that ends in June.

General excise and use taxes – the largest category of tax revenues – are down 2.4 percent over last fiscal year. Hotel-room tax collections are up 7.6 percent.


Warnings issued for box jellyfish

Warning signs about box jellyfish have been posted at Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park.

Honolulu lifeguards said yesterday that in Waikiki, 150 jellyfish were found on the beach and 12 people were stung.

At Ala Moana, two people were stung but no jellyfish were found on the beach.



Big Island budget OK’d

HILO » The Hawaii County Council has approved a $376 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The 6-3 vote came Tuesday during a meeting that stretched 20 hours over two days.

In the end the Council trimmed Mayor Billy Kenoi’s proposed budget by a little more than $93,000.

Faced with revenue shortfalls from falling real estate valuations, Kenoi called for worker furloughs, budget cuts, the un-funding of 70 vacant positions and raising $23 million by increasing property tax rates.

Council members opposed to tax increases came up with dozens of amendments to cut million of dollars from the mayor’s budget. But most of the proposed amendments went down in defeat 6-3.


State wins burials issue

LIHUE » A circuit judge on Kauai has sided with the state against a legal challenge over the planned widening of Kuhio Highway in Wailua.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe dismissed Tuesday a lawsuit filed by Waldeen K. Palmeira of Wailua.

It argued state and federal authorities failed to follow their own rules regarding consulting native Hawaiian cultural practitioners before allowing the $33 million project to go forward.

Palmeira says she is sure ancient Hawaiian burials exist along the route of the project.

But Watanabe held that without testimony from witnesses who have knowledge of the suspected burials, she had to grant the state Department of Transportation’s motion for summary judgment.


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