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Hecht: 2% Land Fund on council agenda (May 5)

More 2% News:

The Charter Commission has submitted its charter amendments to the council for comments (as required by the Hawaii County Charter). The council’s comments are due to the charter commission by mid-May. The following resolutions are recommendations to the Charter Commission about what will be placed on the ballot.

The following three Resolutions recommending changes in the 1% Land Fund Charter amendment will be heard 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 5 at the Sheraton Keauhou. We recommend you support Resolution #335. We have been working with Dominic Yagong and his staff to bring forward this resolution.

Two things to remember: You will see charter amendments on the ballot in November. The 1% amount as part of the charter guarantees that at least 1% be placed in the fund each year. The open space ordinance in the code still exists at 2% and is set to resume July 1, 2011.

Council member Yagong’s Resolution #335 recommends:
* 2% of property taxes are deposited in the fund at least twice per year (2% is what 63% of the public voted for in 2006 and approx. $4 million per year- this would reinstate the 2% amount)
* The Land fund is an interest bearing account ($400,000+ in interest has been earned over the last 4 years).
* The fund shall be used for acquisition and NOT for maintenance (This is a Parks and Recreation function, they have a $23 million per year budget- the mayor and council can appropriate funds for maintenance)
* To protect the lands purchased by taxpayer’s money, we must have a clause to protect these lands from being resold. This clause 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 Hawaii 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.)

Council member Guy Enriques’ Resolution #336 recommends:
* Land fund deposits shall be at 1% per year (which is only approximately $2 million per year)
* Monies in this fund shall be used solely to:
(c), (3)- ” Maintain and manage lands purchased by this fund. Ten percent of the annual fund deposits shall be designated for such maintenance and management of the lands purchased by this fund.”
(My comment: The great gift of the fund is to attract matching funds. The matching funds are for acquisition only. We may not be able to attract matching funds, with this clause in the charter. ALSO all of the Land Fund money will be used for maintenance- which is like adding the money back to the general fund. )

Council member Ford’s Resolution #337 recommends:
* Much the same as council member Yagong’s resolution, and recommends to reinstates he 2% amount BUT does not include Yagong’s #4 because it would conflict with Ford’s
(g) which states: “Other funds for purposes other than public access, opens space or natural resources preservation may be used on a prorated basis to purchase a portion of a proposed public access, open space and natural resources preservation fund acquisition. Other funds shall consist of County operational or capital improvement project funds, grants or proceeds form the sale of bonds from any other sources of revenue or funding. The prorated portion of the land purchased with other funds may then be used only for County public health, safety and welfare purposes.”

Debbie Hecht
Campaign Coordinator 2% for the Land Fund
(808) 989-3222

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