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Last chance land fund hearing in Hilo (Feb. 12)

Debbie Hecht, campaign coordinator 2% for the Land Fund and the Save Our Lands Citizens Committee, issued the following update:

Aloha 2% supporters-

LAST HEARING FOR THE LAND FUND – Friday, Feb. 12 in Hilo. In January, the Charter Commission voted on the 2% amount. The amendment failed but we got five votes we need at least two more votes!

Big mahalo to ‘yes’ votes: Chair Haitsuka, Guy Kaulukukui, Jamae Kawauchi, Joseph Kealoha, Susie Osborne. ‘No’ votes: Todd Shumway and Scott Unger. Absent were: David Fuertes, Daphne Honma, Casey Jarman and Alapaki Nahale-A.

We needed six votes to get the 2% reinstated. We need the commissioners who voted yes to stay the course and we need the absent or no votes to change to yes votes.

Right now, the land fund is at HALF PERCENT. That’s why we need your help!!

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

* TESTIFY at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the last and final reading for the Land Fund in Hilo or by teleconferencing in Kona or Waimea.

* SEND AN EMAIL to the commissioners at KEOFF@co.hawaii.hi.us

* TALK TO THE COMMISSIONERS and ask them to support the 2% compromise submitted by the Save Our Lands Citizen’s committee.

KEY POINTS OF THIS COMPROMISE AMENDMENT:

Reinstate the 2% amount. Sixty-three percent of voters approved this in 2006. The commissioners do not think we will vote for this again. Please reassure them. Ask them to put the 2% land fund on the ballot and let the voters decide.

We need the 2% amount or $4 million per year not the ½% or $1 million that is currently being proposed. The $11 million in the fund is depleted with the exciting purchase of 151 acres at Kaiholena in North Kohala for $6.7 million and the soon to be purchased 2nd portion of Kawa Bay for $3.9 million.

To see the Open Space commission’s recommended purchases for 2009 go to www.hawaii-county.com/finance/…

It needs to be stated that the highest and best use of the Land Fund is to seek dollar-for-dollar matching funds to double the money in the fund to maximize land conservation.

It needs to be stated that the land fund should be an interest bearing account. And that deposits should be made after property taxes are collected twice per year so more funds are available and interest can accrue. So far we have added $403,551.00 in interest since late 2006 to January 2010.

It needs to be stated that the Land fund be used for acquisition and not for maintenance or development of parks. In the 2007-08 Hawaii County report it states $7.1 million in the budget is to be used for park maintenance.

It needs to be clarified that if the 2% tax set aside is used to pay the debt on an Open Space Bond, that the bond should not be part of an aggregate bond issue, so that citizens can watchdog how the fund is used to pay fees, commissions and other bond expenses.

If you would like to see the actual legislation, please go to www.dhecht.com/?page_id=85

Mahalo for your support on saving Hawaii’s best places!

Debbie Hecht

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