LETTERS for the December 6 issue
Senator clarifies state taxes
A recent letter to the editor (“Honolulu Rail shouldn’t use Hawaii’s General Fund”) contained some potentially misleading information, and I would like to clarify a few points.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently signed Bill 42, which authorized the City and County of Honolulu to draw from the City and County of Honolulu’s general fund for the rail project, which contains tax revenue generated in the City and County of Honolulu only. This Honolulu general fund is the fund referred to in the recent reporting around Bill 42, and Maui taxpayers do not contribute to it.
Here is where the confusion may stem: the original source of funding for the Honolulu Rail project was a surcharge of 0.5 percent that the Legislature allowed to be placed on the General Excise Tax (GET) until 2027. Although the GET is a statewide tax, the 0.5 percent surcharge was only assessed in the City and County of Honolulu and not in Maui County.
In 2017, the Legislature met in a special session to address the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit Authority’s budgetary shortfalls. The Legislature passed Act 1, which extended Honolulu’s ability to place a surcharge on GET until 2030, and raised the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) by 1 percent, with the proceeds of the 1 percent increase to be placed in a rail special fund. The TAT is a statewide tax on short-term rentals, such as hotel rooms, timeshares and vacation rentals. Those who operate hotels, vacation rentals or other transient accommodations on Maui do contribute to this fund.
Furthermore, Act 1 authorized counties to institute a surcharge on the GET to pay for their own special projects. The counties of Hawaii and Kauai instituted this surcharge, but Maui County has not enacted a surcharge. Revenues generated by county surcharges on the GET are reserved for use only in the counties where they are generated, in a similar manner to the surcharge on rental cars created by Act 215 in 2018.
I hope this clarifies any confusion regarding rail funding. I will continue to fight against any attempts to force Maui taxpayers to pay for Oahu’s rail project.
SEN. ROSALYN H. BAKER, Sixth District – South and West Maui
Create housing for descendants of plantation/mill workers
Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and found a post by “The Story Connective” sharing a so-called “inspiring” project for development on the Pu’unene Sugar Mill (www.facebook.com/storyconnective/photos/a.508774392651143/985006881694556/?type=3&theater). This made me think about our sugar mill at the bottom of Lahainaluna Road.
The plan is to build a large marketplace complete with more buildings for “local artists” and business owners. The project claims to create more jobs for residents.
However, most Maui-raised families who relocate to the Mainland are moving due to the lack of affordable homes. Personally, I say “NO” to the project. There are already too many large buildings on Maui that are open and empty.
Instead, I would prefer to see an affordable housing subdivision for descendents of plantation/mill workers.
This would allow Maui families to live on the land that our kupuna cultivated and worked. (I am the granddaughter of Lahaina mill worker and community activist the late Faustino “Fuzzy” Alboro Sr.)
The development company already has ideas for cleaning and building new healthy soil.
So, with that said, let’s apply their knowledge to build a safe, functional and affordable place for the families of past Maui plantation workers to live – the way our kupuna envisioned and intended when they moved to Lahaina to start a new life for their family years ago.
KAMAEHU ALBORO, Lahaina
Thanks and giving
On behalf of LahainaTown Action Committee, I’d like to extend a huge, heartfelt mahalo to everyone who helped make the Thanksgiving Feast for Those in Need a success.
Thanks to the chefs who prepared our meal at Captain Jack’s, Fleetwood’s on Front St., Pioneer Inn, Paia Fish Market, Old Lahaina Luau and Slappy Cakes.
Thanks to Liz May and the Sunset Rotary Club for providing dessert and to Tropic Water and Starbucks Cannery Mall for our drinks.
Mahalo to our local churches: Holy Innocents for providing rolls and Lahaina Baptist for your monetary donation.
Mahalo to Maui Jim Sunglasses and Down the Hatch for helping us with expenses such as advertising and porta potties (and to Riley at Akamai Pumping for working on your birthday).
Mahalo to Jen Mather at Waiola Church and the families at Maui Prep and Sacred Hearts School for putting together the “blessing bags” filled with toiletries, snacks and sweet notes.
A special thanks to Liz Sager and friends for the children’s backpacks filled generously with snacks and toys.
For our beautifully set tables, we are grateful to Kula Produce, Maui Pineapple Store, Maui Gold Pineapple Company, Royal Lahaina Resort, A Special Touch Florist and the Lahainaluna National Honor Society.
For our well-run kitchen, we thank Juan Gomez of Penne Pasta and Wendy Laurel.
For the delivery of meals to those who could not join us, we thank Demming’s Delivery.
Mahalo to Deejay Ron for bringing his music and creating a festive mood.
Mahalo to all of the agencies who helped us get the word out and participated in our Resource Fair: The Salvation Army, Ke Hale A Ke Ola Shelter, A Cup of Cold Water, and Feed my Sheep.
We thank Principal Steve Franz of King Kamehameha III Elementary School for allowing us use the cafeteria to host this heartwarming gathering.
And lastly, to the 200 volunteers and 400 guests, mahalo for spending your Thanksgiving day with us. West Maui No Ka ‘Oi.
JOANNA STOCKHAM, Lahaina