Letters for Wednesday — November 23, 2005

• Vote and vote wisely

• County circuit breaker tax credit

• Mahalo for help with exams

Vote and vote wisely

The Nov. 8, 2005, news article about the woman that voted in every local, State and national election since 1920 was an awakening. A Constitutional amendment that year granted women the right to vote. She never wavered in exercising the one certain power granted to each citizen by our system of government. How many of us on Kaua‘i vote in each election? The record is poor. How about those of you not even registered to vote?

Everyone is concerned about traffic, housing and rental availability, drugs and crime, infrastructure such as water and power, but yet most do not turn out to vote. In our system we can only vote for representatives. We can’t vote directly for improvement, change, or specific projects. So what can we do? Make sure the political party we belong to and vote for has established a specific plan and a layout of the road map to follow to meet the objectives. Make sure the representative asking for your vote is committed to the party platform and if not, why not? Make sure we know the specifics on each candidate as to their platform and road map on how they can get us what is needed.

On Kaua‘i, those voting must be satisfied with the Democratic Party platform in that election after election the winners to Federal and State house and senate seats are the Democratic candidates. I am at a loss here. If nothing is done year after year about such serious issues as traffic, housing, and infrastructure, why the vote of confidence for the Democratic Party platform?

Kauaians need to obtain Gov. Linda Lingle’s “A New Beginning for Hawai‘i.” It’s a platform that lays out the road map for the needed changes for Kaua‘i. It is the platform that won her the office. She is working tirelessly to carry it out, but she needs candidates in office committed to her platform to ensure legislation is enacted. We have just one year to prepare for the 2006 election. Please do your research on the party platforms and question hard the candidates. Then register to vote and turn out. We need to get a party in office that can achieve what needs to be done.

  • Ronald Holte

County circuit breaker tax credit

The county has a ‘Circuit Breaker’ tax credit. In theory, if the 2005 tax bill exceeded 3-percent of the owner’s gross income, the owner qualifies for the credit and the tax bill for 2006 will be the greater of 3-percent of income or the 2001 tax bill. In other words, for low-income taxpayers, property taxes are supposed to be capped at the amount paid in 2001. This tax credit must be applied for each year.

I applied for and received this credit last year, and my tax bill for 2005 was exactly equal to my 2001 tax bill — as was promised. Since my income is still well below the 3-percent threshold, I would expect to get the same credit this year — and pay the same tax amount. On the form, the instructions say to enter the 2001 tax amount on line (H) and then subtract this from the 2005 tax bill (which is, of course the same) and put the result on line (I). Since next year’s tax should be the same as this year’s tax, the result is zero. The form then says that if line (I) is zero or negative “you are not eligible for a credit.” I assumed this was some sort of error and called the tax department. I was informed by one Howard Uohara that the form was designed by the county council, that the tax department simply checked the arithmetic, and if the form said I was ineligible, then that is how they would rule. I asked if the result was logical and he said that if I had any questions I had to go before the county council. The tax department merely follows orders — without thinking, apparently.

Thus I am faced with a tax bill several thousand dollars higher for 2006. If the circuit breaker credit remains in effect next year, then my taxes in 2007 will go back to the same amount I paid in 2001. I am wondering if this was the intent of the county council — that the circuit breaker tax be only applied every other year when the prior tax bill exceeds the base year. If so, they should have stated this clearly when announcing the credit in the first place.

I am still hoping that this is merely an error in the way the form was drawn up, but obviously the tax department has no intention of discussing the matter. By copy of this letter I am asking the county council and mayor for comment. I am also wondering if there is an attorney out there willing to take on a class action lawsuit against the county on behalf of all who received the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit for their 2005 taxes and are thus ineligible for the same credit for 2006.

  • Stan Godes

Mahalo for help with exams

Aloha, I want to send a BIG MAHALO to two volunteers who are making a difference for our island. Retired Deputy Chief, California Highway Patrol Kevin Mince and Retired Sgt., California Highway Patrol Keri Hawkins are volunteering their time to assist people who are interested in becoming Kauai Police officers.

Mince and Hawkins knew that the Kauai Police Department was having a problem with filling vacancies. In analyzing the issue, they diagnosed that the written portion of the exam was difficult for some potential officers to pass. They contacted Sgt. Bagley, K.P.D. With his assistance, Hawkins and Mince are offering four-two hour classes on how to take a written test. The classes are free and available to anyone who is interested in taking the Police Exam.

Presently, there are nine students in their class. Seven of the students have taken the Police Department Exam previously and failed by just a few points. Keri Hawkins said that simply knowing how to take a test, including reading the entire test first, will benefit the students.

The Police Department will be giving the exam again in December. With Mince’s and Hawkins’ volunteer teaching hours, we will hopefully see more students qualify to become recruits for the Kauai Police Department.

Thanks, Kevin Mince and Keri Hawkins, for using your professional skills to make our island a better place to live.

  • Sandy Helmer

Where’s the beef?

As far as I can tell, The Garden Island did not report on the story of a criminal investigation of the HeliUSA pilot at the helm of the fatal crash near Ke’e Beach in September. I saw the story in the Star-Bulletin on Nov. 18th, but still (as of Nov 19th) nothing from our own paper.

Considering this is the first time such an investigation has been conducted after a fatal crash, it seems like a pretty major story to me. Frankly, I think you’ve beaten on the KUIC drum enough already and it seems like you are now missing major news stories.

“Where’s the beef?” as we used to say.

  • John Patterson

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