Hannemann rejects Pittsburgh funds
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Democratic hopeful for governor, says he is not taking any of the money from a fundraiser held in Pittsburgh.
"The Hannemann campaign will not be accepting any contributions associated with that event," Hannemann’s campaign said in an statement.
Hannemann made his comments after he was criticized by the Hawaii Republican Party.
The state GOP said a recent Hannemann fundraising trip to Pittsburgh raises "serious ethical concerns."
The trip was first publicized Wednesday in a blog by environmental activist Carroll Cox, who posted a copy of Hannemann’s fundraiser notice featuring NFL football players supporting Hannemann. Cox noted that Hannemann had sent out a news release saying he was going to Washington to meet with Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
Child care center opens at Schofield
The Army opened a new $12.3 million child care center at Schofield Barracks – the largest on Oahu – to accommodate before- and after-school programs for elementary students.
Army officials said the center – named Napua Koa, which is Hawaiian for "the children of the warrior" – is dedicated to the children of soldiers from Hawaii killed in the current conflicts.
The recently opened center – which services Army children from kindergarten through the fifth grade – also has a soccer field and a basketball court.
Besides classrooms, study areas, a performing arts room, a computer lab and an electronics gaming room, the center has a demonstration kitchen where children can work on food projects and observe cooking demonstrations.
Tax plan riles landowners
Some Big Island land and business owners say the county’s planned property tax increases will hurt their businesses.
The Hawaii County Council approved double-digit percentage point tax rate increases this week for rental homes, apartments and agricultural buildings.
Mayor Billy Kenoi proposed the increases to help cover a projected revenue shortfall triggered by the economic recession. He is expected to sign them into law.
Owners of 20,000 residential-class properties are due to see a 12 percent higher land rate and a 28 percent jump in the tax rate on buildings.
Apartment owners will have to pay an extra $1.75 per $1,000 of the property’s value or a 21.6 percent higher rate on both land and buildings.
The increases are due to appear in biannual bills due in August and February.
"I consider it (to be) anti-business," said Nancy Cabral, who manages 750 East Hawaii rentals as owner of Day-Lum Inc., Coldwell Banker Day-Lum Properties and Day-Lum Rentals and Management Inc.
"What it’s doing is discouraging people from wanting to invest on Hawaii Island."
Cabral said she is no longer buying in East Hawaii and is instead buying property on the mainland because she is getting a better return on her investments there.
Kenoi’s administration says the higher rates will be "revenue-neutral" because they will be offset by property values that fell during the recession.
"A lot of people will be surprised. Even though their rate went up, they’ll be paying less taxes," county tax Administrator Stan Sitko said Thursday.
But a 31.5 percent tax increase for agricultural buildings is worrying Harold Tanouye, owner of Green Point Nurseries.
"This is the worst time," said the 47-year industry veteran. "We’re going to lose employees."