POSTED: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homeowner tax proposal advances

A proposal to establish a separate “;homeowner”; class tax rate for residents who live in their properties advanced in the City Council yesterday.

Bill 51 was approved by a 6-2 vote, with Council Chairman Todd Apo and Councilman Charles Djou voting in opposition.

Both said they feel the city already has means for reducing taxes on owner-occupants, through adjusting the homeowners' tax exemption.

Supporters say the proposal, advocated by Mayor Mufi Hannemann, is aimed at separating tax rates for owner-occupants versus non-resident owners such as speculators, investors and vacation home owners.

The proposal faces further vetting by the Budget Committee and a final vote by the full Council before going to Hannemann for consideration.


AmeriCorps jobs receive funding

The state has been awarded $910,074 in federal stimulus funds to support 45 conservation-focused AmeriCorps positions for a year throughout Hawaii.

The 42-week program will be administered by the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Hawaii Recovery Youth Conservation Corps members work to protect natural resources and cultural sites on Maui; provide information to visitors as interpreters at Diamond Head State Monument; monitor hawksbill turtles at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; protect native forests in remote areas of the Koolau Mountain Watershed Partnership program; and help coordinate the activities of volunteers performing alien plant control, feral animal control and native outplanting on Kauai.

More information is available at hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/RYCC/Apply. Priority will be given to applications submitted by Monday.


Onizuka space center in planning

; KAILUA-KONA » Plans are continuing for a new Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center on Hawaii island.

The current building must go because it's in conflict with the Kona Airport master plan that was released in February.

According to a draft assessment released last week, the new $5.5 million center will be relocated on the south side of the airport in a 7,335-square-foot building.

The site is owned by the state, which will pay for the center.

The facility will feature a theater, exhibition area, library, gift shop and meeting room. Construction is to begin later this year and be completed in 18 months.

The center honors Onizuka, a Hawaii astronaut killed in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.