Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Share of hotel tax biggest issue for Hawaii counties, high shipping costs a growing concern, new consultant for Honolulu rail, Kiss opening Maui restaurant, Molokai feels short-changed by Larry Ellison's Island Air, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Kona hotel pool scene (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s four mayors and county councils are working to reach unanimous agreement on key tax issues so they can lobby the Legislature next year with a louder and more unified voice, officials said. The counties want to protect their share of the hotel tax revenue and have the state grant them a new taxing power so they can raise more funds, according to interviews with mayors, council members and legislators. The Hawaii State Association of Counties has invited the state's Council of Mayors to its meeting Wednesday in the hopes of reaching consensus on how to approach state lawmakers about the transient accommodations tax, general excise tax and other issues. Civil Beat.

Moving a container here from Los Angeles costs nearly 10 times more than moving that same container from Los Angeles to Shanghai, some three times farther. And that cost for shipping to and from Hawaii from the west coast is set to rise again. Hawaii Reporter.

The Navy’s top submarine commander in the Pacific says budget issues won’t affect his ability to deploy submarines next year. But Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer said he’s concerned cuts to the civilian workforce at the nation’s naval shipyards will mean submarines won’t be ready to deploy as quickly in 2015 and beyond. Associated Press.

Former State Welfare Worker Charged with Tampering with Government Records and Misapplication of Property. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaiian Airlines is starting to sell tickets for its first-ever direct flight to China. The airline plans to launch nonstop service from Honolulu to Beijing on April 16. It will operate the flight three times a week. Associated Press.

Oahu

Local transit officials announced Tuesday they have awarded a $46.1 million contract to the consulting firm CH2M Hill Inc. to help oversee the next phase of Honolulu's rail project. Star-Advertiser.

A new contractor is taking over some of the oversight on Honolulu’s $5.26 billion rail project, and will be paid nearly $50 million to do so. On Tuesday, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation awarded a contract to CH2M Hill, an international engineering firm, to replace Parsons Brinckerhoff. Civil Beat.

'Virtual line' eases wait at satellite city hall. A low-cost system city workers developed lets people sit down rather than stand in queues. Star-Advertiser.

A former city street sweeper fired from his job after admitting to theft in an overtime scam was rehired by a different city department three years after losing his job. Hawaii News Now.

A developer is proposing to build 499 rental loft apartments in downtown Kapolei aimed at young professionals. But some community representatives say the area has plenty of housing and needs more places for young professionals to work. The local office of Ohio-based development firm Forest City Enterprises Inc. presented plans for the project called Kapolei Lofts at a meeting Monday night before the planning and zoning committee of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board. Star-Advertiser.

Two Kamiloiki Elementary School students were sent to a hospital Tuesday morning after their Hawaii Kai school was evacuated following reports of a strange odor on campus. Star-Advertiser.

A contract that allows federal workers to trap and capture feral pigs at the city's Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden was allowed to lapse, resulting in increased damage to the grounds. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County is still grappling with how to develop rules following a new state law exempting nonresidential structures on farms from building permits and plan reviews. The law, which went into effect July 1, allows structures such as sheds, barns, greenhouses and other buildings not intended for living space to be built without permits on commercial farmland within the agricultural district. West Hawaii Today.

After the Thirty Meter Telescope is built on Mauna Kea, it won’t be able to hold onto the title of world’s largest optical telescope for long. Other large observatories, including a telescope with a 39-meter mirror in Chile, are planned and may be completed a few years afterward. But Sandra Dawson, TMT spokeswoman, assured a luncheon of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii on Tuesday that it will remain the most advanced. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the band Kiss are planning to be on Maui for a late January opening celebration for the Rock & Brews restaurant in Paia. Pacific Business News.

The Outlets of Maui, a retail and restaurant center under construction in the space once occupied by the former Lahaina Center, is scheduled for a soft opening Thursday, according to information released by the Maui Visitors Bureau. Maui Now.

The state Public Access Room, a division of the Legislative Reference Bureau, will conduct a series of free workshops on Maui called "We the Powerful!" the first week of December. Maui News.

Kauai

An upcoming election to vote on whether Kauai Island Utility Cooperative should be charging additional fees to customers who choose to keep their old electric meters is pegged to cost about $63,000. Garden Island.

A popular south shore Kauai beach will undergo a small-scale sand replenishment project to address erosion. The county's Department of Parks and Recreation says the Poipu Beach project is scheduled to begin Dec. 9 and is expected to be completed by the end of the week. Associated Press.

Molokai

Because of frequent and seemingly interminable delays, folks who live on the Friendly Island are not feeling very friendly toward Island Air. Dozens of Molokai residents who spoke with Civil Beat said they feel like the company is giving them short shrift, perhaps in favor of routes to Lanai. That island's owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, bought Island Air in March.