Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cher selling Big Island home, state-county budget fights continue, state readies for Obama, more news

Cher's six-bedroom Hawaii home overlooking the Pacific Ocean is set to be auctioned Jan. 18.

Hawai'i's love affair with President Obama is as ardent as ever, and so far there's every sign it's mutual.

It is unlikely that an agreement to end public school teacher furloughs will be reached in time to prevent the next "furlough Friday" on Jan. 8, a goal Gov. Linda Lingle had set when she proposed her plan last month.

The executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly said yesterday that the union is "fully prepared" to go to court and defend a clause in its contract that would prevent the administration from cutting faculty salaries.

Gov. Linda Lingle plans to take the counties' share of the transient accommodations tax to balance state budgets for the next three years.

Hawaii County's budget hole may get $17 million deeper after the state indicated Monday it would suspend payments of the hotel room tax to the counties.

Already staring at a potential $140 million hole in their next budget, the City Council and Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration now face the prospect of coming up with $45 million more, based on the governor's plan to scoop all of the hotel room tax money that normally is divvied up among the state's four counties.

With Maui County already facing a bleak outlook for property tax revenue next year, Gov. Linda Lingle's proposal to suspend the counties' share of hotel room revenue came as more bad news Monday.

State officials have taken a 6-foot boa constrictor into custody after a Big Island resident discovered it.

Hawaii hospitals are eyeing the key senate vote, expected on Christmas Eve.

Many customers of the county Department of Water will see their bimonthly bill rise 10.3 percent effective Jan. 1.

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