Friday, September 18, 2009

The tax man cometh, unemployment up again, ethics coming to Hawaii County government


After living 18 days on a remote island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Kekuewa Kikiloi is reveling in the "incredible" experience and still nursing sore feet from the rugged volcanic terrain.

Hawaii businesses to be hit with soaring unemployment tax

Hawaii's unemployment rate crept up to 7.2 percent in August, as the state's economic downturn sliced into jobs and more residents joined the ranks of the unemployed.

The University of Hawai'i said its best and final contract offer to union employees includes a 5 percent salary reduction, a payroll lag of five days at the end of this fiscal year in June and a reduction in the state's contribution to health insurance from 60 percent of premium costs to less than 50 percent.

Union leaders are urging about 3,200 University of Hawaii professors and instructors to reject the administration's latest pay cut offer.

It is too early to predict whether the furlough of all state deputy public defenders three days per month will cause a backlog of court cases, said state Public Defender Jack Tonaki.

Almost a year after promising ethics reforms if he won the top county job, Mayor Billy Kenoi this week proposed a series of changes to curtail county workers' most blatant conflicts of interest.

The Hawaii County Council this week started testing a new security procedure aimed at keeping the peace between lawmakers and the public they're paid to serve.

Hawaii County's coffers are running lower than usual because so many Big Island landowners didn't pay property tax bills due Aug. 20.


Automated trash pickup on its way to Kauai