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Waimea Town Meeting to Focus on Proposed Tax Amendment

September 28, 2018, 7:50 AM HST (Updated September 28, 2018, 7:50 AM)
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Waimea Community Association. PC: https://www.facebook.com/WaimeaCommunityAssociation/

The Waimea Community Association (WCA) Town Meeting scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, at 5:15 p.m. in Waimea School’s cafeteria will focus on the proposed constitutional amendment that will go on the 2018 Hawai’i General Election ballot that would establish a new tax on investment properties to support public education.

SB2922 calls for a Constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to establish a surcharge on investment real property to support public education.

The amendment, which reads: “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?” has been called “one of the most contentious issues to go before voters.”

While Hawai’i voters are being asked to vote a simple “yes” or “no” in the Nov. 6, 2018, General Election, many view the issue as more complicated than a simple up or down vote suggests, the WCA said in a press release.

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The Hawai’i State Teachers Association (HSTA) is actively advocating for its passage, even creating and funding a Political Action Committee (PAC) with a half-million dollars to communicate their views because they see it as an important first step toward improving public schools in Hawai’i by generating more funding for teacher salaries, special education, arts education and career and technical training, the release said.

“This is the best chance we’ve had in decades to actually fix our schools,” said HSTA President Corey
Rosenlee, who will explain and speak in favor of the ballot amendment at the WCA Town Meeting.

Opponents of the amendment are concerned that it gives the state new taxing power that they insist rightfully belongs to the counties, and because the proposal does not specify which investment properties would be impacted.

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Further, some are concerned that it comes without clarity about what exactly the new funding would be used for within the Hawai‘i Department of Education, and that it provides no guarantee that the new revenue would actually increase funding for the DOE.

Could the legislature use this new revenue to replace what it currently authorizes for public education, leaving the DOE without a meaningful overall funding increase to make desired improvements?

Further adding to the uncertainty is the DOE’s and Board of Education’s decision to take no position.

A factual review of how the proposed amendment might impact taxes for the County of Hawai’i will be
shared by County of Hawai’i Real Property Tax Division Administrator Lisa Miura.

Because she is not an elected official, but rather, a civil servant, Miura will speak to possible tax consequences but will not be suggesting how to vote on the measure.

WCA’s discussion of the education-related constitutional amendment will include time for questions and answers.

Also on the WCA Town Meeting agenda will be:

  • A brief update on County Council business by Waimeaʻs two members, Council Chair Val Poindexter
    and Dr. Tim Richards.
  • A public safety report by Waimea Community Policing Officer Kelena Ho’okano, who will
    address recent home burglaries in and near Waimea and discuss burglary and theft prevention
    strategies.
  • An update on three construction projects underway by North Hawai’i Community Hospital. Presenters
    will be Dr. Gary Goldberg, ER doctor; and Janet Crosier, Ambulatory Services director. They will
    discuss the status of the much needed expanded Emergency Room, a new Primary Care Clinic and
    new Orthopedic and Wound Care Clinic in Parker Ranch Center.

WCAʻs spotlighted community not-for-profit for the October Town Meeting will be Na Kalai Wa‘a’s
Hanauna Ola project to “Sustain the Generations through Voyaging.” This project is to prepare the next generation of voyagers to sail in May-June 2019 to Papahānaumokuākea, the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, including Nihoa and Mokumanamana. The project also involves Hawai’i Island schools,
including both the Mala‘ai school garden and the school-community of Kanu o ka ‘Aina, as well as
communities around the island in “provisioning” the Makali‘i for this voyage.

“If our kūpuna were able to feed ourselves… can we as a community in this great modern day and age?” said Na Kalai Wa’a leaders. “And, if we are able to feed 14 crew members breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month-and-a-half, then we should be able to feed our own families and community.”

As always, WCA will pass the basket for donations to Na Kalai Wa‘a.

Also as always, there is no charge to attend WCA Town Meetings and everyone is invited. Membership in WCA is encouraged and runs $15 for individuals and $25 per family per year.

Looking ahead, WCA’s Nov. 1, 2018, Town Meeting at 5:15 p.m. in the Waimea School Cafeteria will primarily be a Mahalo Potluck for the community’s emergency responders. There also will be an update on Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) activities throughout several recent Hawai’i Island emergencies and how to better mobilize the immediate community for future events.

All are invited to the Mahalo Potluck and asked to bring a dish to share—bring a card listing the ingredients. Paper products, steaming hot Starbucks coffee and ice water will be provided.

For more information, go online or call Patti Cook at (808) 937-2833.

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