The Land Fund has been in existence since 2006 when it was approved by 63% of voters. 63% of voters also approved the Land Fund in 2010. In 2012 votes the same 63% approved the 2% Land Fund and a Maintenance Fund to care for these lands that exists today. There have been some great successes, but we believe there is much that can be done to improve the 2% Land Fund. We hope you will support this legislation and testify at the Charter Commission and also when the Charter Commission goes out for public meetings in your area of the island. Mahalo for your kokua to save Hawai’i Island’s treasured lands.
The GREAT SUCCESS OF THE 2% LAND FUND PROGRAM:
- PROPERTIES PROPOSED BY CITIZENS FOR ACQUISITION: 180
- PROPERTIES ACQUIRED since 2006: ONLY 14
- LAND ACQUIRED: 4,428 acres of land acquired with an additional 2,200 acres will be acquired soon at Waikapuna in Ka’u.
- MONEY SPENT: County of Hawaii 2% Land Fund $ 27,389,268. Grants from Matching funds from State Legacy Land and US Fish and Wildlife $8,764,083. And $2 million from a private donor.
The Charter Commission is currently discussing:
OPPOSE- CA7- which GUTS THE 2% LAND FUND (see below for the exact legislation)
- Reduces the fund to .75% of property taxes ($1.5 million which will not be enough money to purchase property)
- Removes the Maintenance Fund from the Charter to the County Code where it can be cut in the budget each year by the Mayor and Council. Remember Charter Amendments can only be changed by a vote of the people. We proposed a charter amendment when Mayor Kenoi stopped deposits to the fund for 2 years in 2006.
- Removes the clause that protects the land in perpetuity. The 2% Lands could be sold! This could affect the County’s ability to obtain matching funds. “This property (or easement) was acquired with money from the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai’i County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.”
SUPPORT the 2 Save Our Lands Citizen’s Proposal TO STRENGTHEN the 2% Land Fund Program. (See below for the exact legislation).
CA-9 Uses 2% LAND FUND MONIES to pay for a full time staff person working for the Department of Finance who is dedicated to ONLY administering the 2% LAND FUND PROGRAM. Their duties would include acquiring property, obtaining matching funds, helping the public with suggestion forms and stewardship applications and the administration of the Maintenance Fund. This saves money for the Department of Finance, with one less salary to pay. A big mahalo to Commissioner Michelle Galimba for bringing this forward. SEE ACTUAL LEGISLATION POSTED BELOW
SUPPORT Coming UP- January 25th IN KONA meeting: Maintenance Fund Changes
- The Maintenance Fund and the entire 2% Land Fund will be administered entirely by the Department of Finance.
- Increases the scope of activities allowable with Maintenance Fund monies, to include: constructing toilet facilities, ADA improvements, small buildings, trails paths and roads.
- Clarifies the Stewardship Grant process.
- Allows officers, board members, or employees of a 501(c) 3 nonprofit to be paid.
Big mahalo to Commissioner Sally Rice has offered to bring this forward. SEE ACTUAL LEGISLATION POSTED BELOW.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- Testify at a Charter Commission meeting: There could be an additional meeting on January 25thand another meeting on February 8th. PLEASE SAVE THE DATES.
- Send an email to the Chart to email@example.com tell them what you support and what you oppose.
- Talk to friends and family, this will be on the 2020 ballot and we need to educate people.
- Sign up to get emails to stay informed- Debbie Hecht at firstname.lastname@example.org
PROCESS of CHARTER AMENDMENTS: STAY TUNED!
- SUBMIT Charter amendments have to a Charter Commissioner to be considered.
- The Charter Commission then DEBATE The proposed amendments are debated and if they are approved move on to
- FIRST READING. If a majority votes no, then the proposed amendment dies, If they are approved at first reading (sometimes with amendments) then the proposed charter amendments are presented at
- PUBLIC MEETINGS- public meetings (please attend these when they are in your area).
- Ideas by the public may then be incorporated into the proposed charter amendments to be reconsidered at the Charter Commission
- SECOND READING- The Charter Commission votes again at Second Reading
- COUNTY COUNCIL -those amendment that passed 2nd reading go to County Council for 2 or 3 readings.
- The process must be finished by August 19
- APPEAR ON THE BALLOT FOR NOVEMBER 2020
WHAT IS THE CHARTER COMMISSION? The Charter Commission meets every 10 years to revise the Hawaii County Charter. Mayor Kim appointed all eleven members. Three of the commissioners are from the Districts of north and south Hilo, 3 of the commissioners are from south Hilo, one is from South Hilo and Kea’ au, one is from Puna, one from north Kona, one from south Kona. No one represents West Puna or District 7 North and South Kona. Eight of the commissioners are from Hilo, ONLY 3 of the Commissioners are from the west side of the island.
THE CHARTER COMMISSIONERS ARE: William Carthage Bergin, Michelle Galimba, Paul K. Hamano, Kevin D. Hopkins, Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, Sarah H. Rice, Christopher John Imiloa Roehrig, Marcia A.K. Saquing, Donna Mae Springer, Douglass Shipman Adams, Chairperson Jennifer Zelko-Schlueter, Vice Chairperson IF YOU KNOW ANY OF OUR FELLOW CITIZENS, PLEASE TALK TO THEM.
THE REBUTTALS to the Arguments we have heard to reduce the 2% Land Fund:
Other counties have much less dedicated money for land acquisition. That is true, Oahu and Maui have a lot larger property tax base because they have a larger population and much more property tax revenue. They also have less vacant land to save. Kauai is almost at full development.
You are taking away money from hiring Police. Two percent of the county tax revenue is approximately $5 to $6 million per year. In hard times, property taxes are less and the county has less money coming in and the 2% for the Land Fund is also less. The 2% Land Fund adjusts in hard times that are why it’s a percentage. The County budget is $524 million so the 2% Land Fund amount of $5 or $6 billion is really only 1.5% of the entire revenue stream for the County of Hawaii. I’ve been running my own business for 40 years; I can cut 1.5% from my budget in 5 minutes. WHY is THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL?
“More than half the land on the Big Island is in Conservation, why do we need to buy more land?” asked Commissioner Roehrig. That is true, but it is zoned Conservation. Properties zoned Conservation were rezoned and beach access limited at the big hotels in Waikoloa and at Kohanaiki, Mauna Lani, O’oma and Kukio The Four Seasons. Zoning does NOT protect land!
In the case of a natural disaster the County should be able to take these funds. The County of Hawaii has earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, high winds and hurricanes. The County government is supposed to care for Citizen’s Safety. The County of Hawaii has a Disaster Relief Fund for this purpose. The real problem is that the Mayor and Council raid this fund to balance the budget. This was evident in the recent lava flow disaster, when there was little money to cover the costs.
We have to delete the Perpetuity clause, in case we have to sell land because we cannot take care of it, said by Mayor Harry Kim in addressing the Charter Commission. See the link below to the video. The perpetuity clause says: “This property (or easement) was acquired with money from the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai’i County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.” WHY would anyone or any group donate matching funds if they knew the land they helped purchase could be sold and the money put into the General Fund to balance the budget.
We can’t take care of all this land; we should sell some to the National Parks so they can take care of it. I heard the Mayor say this, it’s recorded in a Big Island Video clip. Doesn’t Mayor Kim know we have a Maintenance Fund for exactly his purpose? The County is currently collaborating with the National Park Service for both the Kahuku property and on the Waikapuna property, which is under contract in Ka’u. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park helps to manage the Kahuku property. The Ala Kahakai Trail Association in conjunction with the National Park Service’s Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail has a management plan for the King’s Trail or Ala Kahakai Trail that runs 175 miles from Upolu Point near Hawi to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The State of Hawaii Legacy Lands program frequently donates money to purchase properties.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- Testify at a Charter Commission meeting: There could be an additional meeting on January 25th and another meeting on February 8th. PLEASE SAVE THE DATES.
- Send an email to the Chart to Charter.email@example.com and tell them what you support and oppose.
- Sign up to get emails to stay informed- Debbie Hecht at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please talk to your friends and neighbors. Some modification of the Land Fund Program will be on the ballot in 2020 and we will need your help with the campaign to either strengthen the Land Fund or just vote NO, which will preserve what we have.
VIDEO SHOWING HARRY WANTING TO TAKE THE FUND: http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2017/02/09/video-mayor-kim-wants-to-reduce-two-percent-land-fund/
Harry Kim talks about reducing the fund and raising taxes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEAwuvjmv50
SiGN UP TO BE KEPT INFORMED: email@example.com
QUICK HISTORY OF THE LEGISLATION FROM 2005 to 2018:
- Where did the 2% amount come from? In 2004 and early 2005 Sammie Stanbro-Olson donated money to the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) for a survey of Hawaii County residents to ask if they would approve a 1% or 2% Land Fund as a ballot measure. A large majority of residents said they would want a 2% Land Fund because land is so expensive on the Big Island.
- The Save Our Lands Citizen’s Committee Petition Initiative drive collected 9,600 signatures from April to July of 2006. This was during Harry Kim’s first term. Mayor Kim was adamantly against setting aside 2% of property taxes for land acquisition, even though this is only1.5% of the total income for the County. County Clerk Connie Kiriu and County Counsel Lincoln Ashida disqualified almost 6,000 signatures for leaving off Pl, St. or Rd, or if husband and wife used ditto marks for their address when signing under each other or if the year was left off, (we collected signatures from May to July so it was only during 2005 which made the year implied and irrelevant).
- We needed 4,400 signatures to get the measure on the ballot, but because of the disqualifications we didn’t get enough. The County Council at Chair Stacy Higa’s request, decided to place the 2% ballot measure on the ballot for 2006 anyway.
- Despite the Corporation Counsel submitting confusing ballot language using double negatives, the amendment to the Code passed by 63% of voters who voted on the issue and become part of the Hawaii County Code.
- In 2008- As the his first piece of legislation, Mayor Kenoi and the County Council suspended deposits to the Fund for two years. This was possible because the legislation was part of the Hawaii County Code. The Save Our Lands Citizens’ Committee pointed out that there were more than 260 funded but unfilled jobs in his budget (costing $14 million), which were then cut, but Mayor Kenoi failed to reinstate payments to the 2% Land Fund after cutting these budget entries.
- In 2010, the Charter Commission put the Land Fund on the ballot again, but only as the 1% Land Fund. Again the Land Fund passed by 63% of voters, who voted on the measure. The Save Our Lands Committee supported this because it was a charter amendment and could only be overturned by a vote of the people. We wouldn’t have to sit in budget hearings each year.
- In 2012, to honor all the people who signed the petitions and worked so hard over the years, we realized we needed to put the 2% Land Fund back on the ballot as a Charter Amendment, together with a 1/4% Maintenance Fund. We wanted to make sure the Council and Mayor couldn’t stop deposits. A charter amendment can only be undone by a vote of the people. Again, 63% of voters approved both measures. As part of the 2% Land Fund legislation, every property obtained with our taxpayer funds shall have a covenant that runs with the land that states: “This property (or easement) was acquired with money from the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai’i County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.” This has already blocked a potential land trade with the State of Hawaii.
- The Maintenance Fund was clarified in the Hawaii County Code in 2016 to allow the PONC Commission to review Stewardship Grants and to recommend which grants to approve to the Director of Finance.
CA-9, the legislation below, has passed to FIRST READING ON JANUARY 25TH IN KONA AT 1:30 COUNCIL CHAMBERS.
2% Land Fund charter amendment for Charter Commission
January 11, 2019
CHANGES made are the underlined areas are added and struck through areas are deleted. Charter Commissioner Michelle Galimba has presented this proposed amendment. Big mahalo to Michelle! Here is text of the proposal at present, which adds a section under (c)
Fund a senior staff person dedicated ONLY to the administration of the provisions of this section, who shall be employed under the department of finance and whose duties shall include, but not be limited to: assisting the public with applications for acquisition; assisting the public access, open space and natural resources preservation commission with its prioritization of properties to be acquired; negotiation and acquisition of eligible properties; seeking and acquiring matching funds; and managing the maintenance of lands acquired by this fund, by overseeing and implementing the provisions of Section 10-16 of this charter. This position shall be exempt from civil service laws and classifications and be distinct from any other positions that provide support for the provisions of this section, Section 10-16 of this charter, and any matters related thereto. This position shall be distinct from and IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER POSITIONS that provide support for the provisions of this section, Section 10-16 of this charter, and Article 42 of the Hawaii County Code or any matters related thereto.
THE FOLLOWING LEGISLATION WILL BE PRESENTED ON JANUARY 25TH AT 1:30 IN KONA COUNCIL CHAMBERS FOR DEBATE: Charter Commissioner Sally Rice is presenting this proposed amendment. Big mahalo to Sally!
DRAFT- PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE MAINTENANCE FUND at the CHARTER COMMISSION
QUICK SUMMARY of CHANGES:
- The Maintenance Fund and the 2% Land Fund will be administered entirely by the Department of Finance.
- Increases the scope of activities to including constructing toilet facilities, ADA improvements, small buildings, trails paths and roads.
- Refines and better defines the Stewardship Grant process.
- Allows officers, board members, or employees of the 501(c) 3 nonprofit to be paid.
CHANGES made are highlighted in Yellow, underlined areas are added Struck through areas are deleted.
Section 10-16. Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Maintenance Fund.
(a) The purpose of the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation maintenance fund is to accrue and use moneys for maintenance of lands and easements acquired by the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund. The maintenance fund will ensure that money is dedicated to preserve the land, promote public, and maintain a healthy stewardship.
(b) Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions apply:
“Maintenance” means to preserve and conserve lands and easements acquired by the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund and keep them in good repair for public safety.
“Maintenance fund” means a separate fund that holds moneys directed from: 1) the county general fund, the county capital improvement project funds and property tax revenues; and/or 2) designated grants, private contributions, proceeds from the sale of general obligation bonds, council appropriations, and any other source of revenue.
(c) There is established a public access, open space, and natural resources preservation maintenance fund (hereinafter “maintenance fund”). The maintenance fund shall be administered and managed by the department of parks and recreation department of finance. The department of finance shall handle the financial administrative aspects of the maintenance fund.
(d) Deposits due to the maintenance fund.
(1) In adopting each fiscal year’s operating budget, the council shall appropriate one-quarter of one per cent of all real property tax revenue (including interest and penalties) to the maintenance fund. Deposits to the maintenance fund shall occur on a quarterly basis at a minimum.
(2) Additional revenue deposited in the maintenance fund may consist of grants and private contributions intended for the purpose of this section, proceeds from the sale of general obligation bonds authorized and issued for the purpose of this section, council appropriations for the purpose of this section, and any other source of revenue.
(e) Accounting for the maintenance fund; interest bearing accounts; reporting by the department of finance.
(1) All moneys in the maintenance fund shall be deposited in interest bearing accounts until needed. Any interest shall accrue to the maintenance fund.
(2) Moneys in the maintenance fund shall be identified separately for:
(A) Funding received from the real property tax revenue including interest and penalties; and
(B) Funding received from grants and private contributions, and any other source of revenue, and its interest earned, which:
- Shall be itemized and earmarked for specific projects for the lands or easements.
- Shall not be subjected to the maximum accrual of funds limit provided in subsection (f).
(3) Financial statements shall be posted each month on the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund web site.
(f) Maximum accrual limit in maintenance fund; exemption to funding.
(1) Only moneys derived from real property tax revenue, its interest, and its penalties shall be included in the computation of the maximum accrual limit for the maintenance fund. All other moneys specifically directed to the maintenance fund shall be held separately from those moneys in the maintenance fund that originated from real property tax revenues (including interest and penalties), and shall not be subjected to the maximum accrual limit.
(2) The maximum accrual limit shall not exceed $3,000,000.
(3) At the end of any fiscal year in which the maintenance fund holds unencumbered funds derived from real property tax revenue (including interest and penalties) of at least $3,000,000, any unencumbered amount in excess of that $3,000,000 shall be permanently transferred to the general fund balance.
(4) Exemption to funding. If the maintenance fund holds $3,000,000 in unencumbered funds derived from real property tax revenue (including interest and penalties), then the council and the executive branch do not need to add more money to the maintenance fund until the next budget cycle. This exemption shall not release the administration from its mandatory duty to maintain and preserve lands and easements acquired by the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund in good repair for public safety each fiscal year.
- (g) The maintenance fund shall be used solely for public safety maintenance and preservation of those lands and easements acquired by the public access, open space, and natural resources preservation fund, and may be used only for expenditures directly related to its purpose. Expenditures by the administration and/or stewardship grants presumed to be directly related are as follows:
(1) Reparation (fixing, mending, repair work, and servicing);
(2) Preservation (damage control, salvaging, safekeeping, and safeguarding);
(3) Conservation of soil, forests, shorelines, native wildlife, streams, wetlands, watershed, and floodways;
(4) Restoration (replacement, reclamation, reconditioning, and remediation);
(5) Wildfire and fire prevention;
(6) Repair of existing buildings to meet the current code requirements, if the building is deemed reasonable to save;
(7) Replacing signs to meet the current code requirements;
(8) Installation, repair, or replacement fencing and gate or access mechanisms;
(9) Installation or repair of cattle guards;
(10) Mitigation of flooding problems including repair or restoration of existing culverts, drainage features, or other similar flood control mitigation;
(11) Archeological survey and buffering of Native Hawaiian historical or cultural sites after appropriate consultation with Native Hawaiian descendants and cultural practitioners;
(12) Biological studies for the protection of Native Hawaiian species of plants and animals; or
(13) Mitigation of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues that may arise during the course of public safety maintenance and preservation.
Moneys in the maintenance fund shall not be used for planning, design, development, or construction of new buildings, facilities, or infrastructure including roads, paths, bridges, culverts, ramps, or drainage features. Money in the maintenance fund may shall also not be used for mitigation of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues for any new buildings, facilities, or infrastructure. Payment to resolve these aforementioned ADA issues shall be from the capital improvement projects portion described in (17) or allotments derived from the general fund.
(14) Building, renting, leasing and/or the maintenance of toilet facilities.
(15) Building and maintenance of small structures for educational purposes and/or storage of equipment.
(16) Building of roads, trails, and paths.
(17) The County shall spend no more than 30% of the funding each year for capital improvement projects. The remaining 70% of the funding should be used as Stewardship grants. It is the intent of the fund to support the service of community groups in caring for properties purchased by the 2% Land Fund.
(h) Stewardship Grants. Moneys may also be used to provide grants-in-aid for projects, which uses are reflected in subsection (g).
(1) An award of a stewardship grant shall be by council resolution. Stewardship grants may be awarded only until moneys in the maintenance fund are extinguished. Grants shall be awarded on the basis of ability of the stewardship organization to complete the project on time and within cost estimates.
(2) Only 501(c)3 nonprofits or an organization that operates under the umbrella of a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and that can complete a project for the good of the community, shall be considered for a stewardship grant.
(3) Public notice by the department of finance of the availability of the stewardship grants shall be placed in two newspapers of general circulation, as well as electronic media accessible by Internet, by August 1 of each fiscal year provided money is available. These advertisements shall be paid for from the maintenance fund.
(4) To apply for a stewardship grant, a stewardship organization shall provide a packet to the department of parks and recreation finance and the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission that shall include the following:
(A) An application form obtained from department of parks and recreation finance, which is completed for each specific purpose or project;
(B) The packet that shall include:
- A detailed business plan for the project that includes the name of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization,
- A copy of its letter of determination from the Internal Revenue Service,
- A copy of its bylaws and mission statement,
- A description of the specific project and time frames for project goals,
- A budget with estimated costs and activities to accomplish the stated purpose by the 501(c)3 organization,
- A signed agreement to file a written report to the department of finance and the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission one year or less after receipt of the granted funds (and annually thereafter) that includes details as to what has been accomplished on the project, actual costs, and how the money was spent including receipts for materials, or 30 days from project completion, whichever is sooner.
- Any other information requested by the department of parks and recreation; finance and the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission.
- This packet shall then be provided to the council. Within 1 month of submission to the Council, it may be approved by Resolution.
(C) Any remaining monies shall be returned to the Maintenance Fund within 30 days of submitting the final report.
(5) No Officers, board members, or employees of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization or the organization that operates under the umbrella of a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization shall may receive a salary or payment for labor or receive any reimbursement for the stewardship work on the project providing it is stipulated in the budget. The 501(c)3 nonprofit shall sign an agreement so stating these conditions and submit it with the application.
(65) Mismanagement of moneys awarded for a stewardship grant shall permanently bar the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and the organization that operates under the umbrella of a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization from permanently from receiving future grants from the maintenance fund.
(76) The director of the department of parks and recreation finance shall provide a short written evaluation of the proposed project, including comments and recommendations from the Public Access and Open Space Commission to the council and include a recommendation about the applicant’s ability to complete the project according to the project plan. (2012, Ord. No. 12-16, sec. 1.)