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LETTERS for the July 18 issue

By Staff | Jul 18, 2019

Support WMTA’s campaign for fair property taxes

The question is, “What can I do or say to get your attention and desire to support our Call to Action for the West Maui Taxpayers Association Inc. (WMTA)?”

I hope the answer is: “I just got my property tax bill from the County of Maui, and it’s an outrageous amount of increase with no justification for its magnitude!” What crisis is being addressed by this? No one seems to know!

This is an announcement of our new campaign to restore prudent fiscal responsibility to Maui County immediately, and if necessary, at the next election for the Maui County Council in 2020.

Did you get your new property tax bill from the County of Maui yet? The new Maui County Council passed new tax rates effective July 1, 2019, which represents the largest property tax increase in Maui’s history!

For the past 40 years, West Maui has paid over 50 percent of all the County of Maui budget for Property Tax Revenue.

It’s significantly higher now, as over 50 percent of all short-term rentals, hotels and time shares are located in West Maui.

We respectfully suggest that you join us and to put your time and money into that support as soon as possible.

Thank you to our current members, supporters and our volunteer Board of Directors who have helped to shape WMTA into what it has become today and what’s needed for tomorrow.

Did you know that we have been without an executive director for nine years? Our previous executive directors were so crucial in our work to be able to have a face present at ALL the county meetings, community meetings, association meetings and more.

Our goal is to be able to raise funds to hire a new executive director, so that we can continue to be a driving active force in bringing needed resources to our community.

As a founding member, and president, of the West Maui Taxpayers Association, I have and always will continue to fight for West Maui.

JOSEPH PLUTA, West Maui Taxpayers Association


What justifies Maui’s biggest property tax increase?

Why in good conscience would our public servants raise property taxes to represent the largest property tax increase in Maui’s history? What justification could they possibly have?

The increase will hurt families already struggling to pay bills, put a meal on the table and pay rent or a mortgage.

Rents are high enough as it is, and we know property owners will pass the rate increase to their renters. Higher property taxes hurt everyone, especially seniors.

Most seniors are retired and receiving Social Security, and some have a pension. Many seniors purchased their homes years ago – some in expensive neighborhoods, some close to the ocean. Now they are worth alot.

Higher property taxes will force some to sell their homes or go without. Go without what, you ask? The answer: food.

With about 169,000 people on government food aid in Hawaii, isn’t it about time to stop taxing food for Hawaii’s residents? Homeless people are not the number one group looking for a free meal; seniors are. Seniors are already struggling, and this could be the breaking point.

We should freeze real property taxes for seniors upon retirement and exempt them from future property tax increases. As it is, we are losing too many locals. Let’s not forget the aina belongs to them – they have a sacred connection most people will never understand.

We talk about affordable housing, yet this increase will make it impossible for most to realize their dream of home ownership.

The people have risen up against bad legislation before, and they will again.

We should all be praying for our leaders, asking God to give them wisdom. However, if they have no compassion for those who need help the most, they should be replaced.

After all, societies are judged on how we treat the very young and the very old. We should make it a priority to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible.



The only solution to Maui’s feral cat problem

Please stop killing feral cats. While you may be convinced that you’re helping, you are actually making the problem much worse. You cannot kill your way out of this. Cats are an apex predator in Hawaii, and due to our great weather and ample resources, their populations will always rebound.

Hundreds of cities around the world have solved their cat problem using the only proven successful strategy called TNRM (Trap, Neuter, Return, Manage). This program is endorsed and partially supported by the County of Maui.

Here’s how it works: when you spay or neuter, then regularly feed a group of cats, they work together as a team to protect their territory and prevent more cats from moving into the area.

A group of healthy, fixed and fed cats, known as a colony, is the only solution. Fixed cats can usually be easily identified, as the tip of their left ear is often removed during surgery.

When you kill colony cats, you open up space for new unfixed cats to move in and start the breeding cycle all over again. Sickly, struggling cats will take over the area, die young, then quickly be replaced by another group of sickly, struggling cats. The tragic cycle will continue forever. This is known as the Vacuum Effect, and it has been proven worldwide.

While a small group of volunteers have worked tirelessly to help improve the cat problem on Maui over the past decade, we still have a ways to go and are always on the verge of collapsing back to how things used to be here.

If you would like to help humanely solve this problem once and for all, we urgently need you! Please look for solutions online or visit SaveMauiCats.org for more information and ideas on how you can help make a big difference.

Cat haters, cat lovers and cats all want the same thing: less homeless cats. TNRM is the only way we will get there.

MICHAEL WILLINSKY, Save Maui Cats Inc., Lahaina


Please return “borrowed” shopping carts

To all the folks struggling to make ends meet, collecting bottles and cans, going bin to bin, up and down the streets and beaches, sifting through the unthinkable to gather enough for a meal, the struggle is real, and I think we all get it. Thank you for doing that.

What I/we hope for, however, is a greater effort in returning the “borrowed” shopping carts to their respective places.

I live in the Mill Camp, just behind the old mill here in Lahaina, just a short distance from our makeshift recycling center. I can’t get over the overwhelming number of grocery carts being intentionally left on the sides on the streets in and around our neighborhood. It’s unsightly and disheartening. Surely, we can do better than that as a community.

Poverty doesn’t or should never excuse one from doing the right thing. Rich, poor or otherwise, everyone has the same obligation to pick up after themselves and leave a place nicer than they found it.

Whether it’s your campsite, a bench you sleep on or the cart you “borrow” to haul your bottles and cans in, leave it nicer than you found it. Take the cart back to its owner.

Moreover, go the extra mile. If your friend is struggling with mental illness, return his cart for him. If another struggles with drug addiction, offer to take his cart, too.

Be your brother’s keeper – you “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Even if you don’t know whose cart it was, take that one as well! Our island home is small; let’s keep it special by doing more than our part to keep it beautiful.