County to set aside $250,000 in property taxes to buy land

At this month’s general elections, Kaua’i and Maui voters joined 80 communities in 22 states to set aside a total of $2.6 billion in funds for public lands.

The Maui and Kaua’i county charter amendments are the first ever enacted in Hawai’i.

They mandate that percentages of real property tax revenues be set aside each year for purchase of public lands preserving cultural and natural resources, public access, and open space.

“This vote shows a commitment on the part of county leaders and the community at large to protect open space and preserve public access to important lands,” said former Kaua’i County Councilmember and state Senator-elect Gary Hooser.

On Kaua’i, 61 percent of those voting chose to approve the charter amendment, agreeing to set aside one half of 1 percent of annual real property tax revenues for acquisition of lands.

That will amount to around $250,000 next year, when the amendment will first be in effect. The vote was 14,387 for, 5,322 against, with 3,751 blank votes and one over vote.

Hooser and Council Chair Ron Kouchi co-sponsored the legislation that led to the Kaua’i County Charter amendment that passed during this month’s general election.

On Maui, 73 percent of voters agreed to set aside 1 percent of annual real property tax revenues, or over $1 million next year, for purchase of lands.

“Maui and Kaua’i county voters are not alone in their overwhelming support of dedicated funding for open-space protection,” said Teresa McHugh, project manager for The Trust For Public Land Hawaiian Islands field office.

“On November 5th, voters in 79 communities across 22 states passed ballot measures to create approximately $2.6 billion in dedicated public funding to protect land for parks and open space,” she said.

The Trust For Public Land, established in 1972, is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, beaches, open space, urban playgrounds, and wilderness.

In Hawai’i, TPL’s Honolulu office, founded in 1996, has helped acquire and publicly protect important resources on O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i, Moloka’i and the Big Island.

Last year, the TPL helped facilitate the sale of Lumaha’i Beach on Kaua’i’s North Shore from the Wilcox family to the state.

TPL’s Conservation Finance Program provides technical and policy assistance to communities and states seeking to create or increase public funding for open-space acquisition and parks creation.

The Web site, www.tpl.org, highlights TPL’s work in Hawai’i.

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