Categorized | Opinions

Keep land fund for land purchases

Say “NO” on using 2 Percent Land Fund money to meet budget shortfalls.

The Hawaii County Council may raid the 2 percent funds set aside for open space to meet budget shortfalls. This is a betrayal of voters trust. Please e-mail the Council and Mayor and ask them to leave the 2 percent fund alone.

The 2 Percent Land Fund was a hard won victory for preserving Hawaii County’s treasured places. In 2006, the Save our Lands Citizen committee was formed to run a petition initiative drive to set aside 2 percent of Hawaii County property taxes for open space. In four months, over 200 volunteers collected almost 10,000 signatures.

The County Council had to approve this measure to be placed on the ballot after more than 6,000 signatures were disqualified. At the polls, 57 percent of voters voted “yes.” A clear mandate that Hawaii County citizens want their treasured lands preserved.

We need a reliable funding source to attract federal and state matching funds to help acquire these properties.

How much has been deposited in the land fund account since December 2006? When was it deposited? How much interest has been earned? How much has been spent and on what properties? Could this information available to the public in a twice yearly accounting?

The Hawaii County Council has approved 11 Resolutions, instructing the Director of Finance to acquire: Puapuaa Historic site (12+ acres north of Casa de Emdeko – Alii Drive, Kona), Waipio Lookout (acquired), HonoliI (acquired), Cape Kumukahi, Ocean Park, Honolulu Landing, Waiele, Kawaa Bay (partially acquired), Punaluu Beach Park, Paoo and Kaiholena.

Currently there are at least two properties listed for sale: Kiholena in Kohala and the Puapuaa property in Kona. Why are properties with willing sellers not being pursued for acquisition?

The Finance Department is in the middle of negotiations for Kawa Bay, with matching funds already committed. What will happen to this purchase?

This economic downturn is the time to maximize the $3.5-$4 million to best advantage. Land values have fallen by as much as 44.45 percent. Now is the time to buy!

The county can float an Open Space Bond and use the 2 percent funds for payments to buy land at no additional cost to the county or taxpayers. Our treasured lands can be set aside to enjoy forever.

The time is now! We need to save Hawaii’s treasured lands for our children and grandchildren, before they are lost forever.

Debbie Hecht,
Save our Lands Citizens Committee
Campaign Coordinator, 2 Percent for the Land Fund

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