Letters for Friday — February 03, 2006

• Kalapa close on property taxes

• Are letter writers fools?

• Happy to be smoke free

Kalapa close on property taxes

In his Forum article of Jan. 30 concerning the way county officials deal with property tax issues, Lowell Kalapa makes some good points about the “gimmicks” they will float to provide “relief” from the ever increasing appraisals, but he fails to reach the appropriate conclusion.

Property taxes are essential for our county; they are the principal source of county revenue. Mr. Kalapa chooses to ignore that there are important issues to resolve as to how the tax burden should be distributed, and he makes his usual and fallacious argument that taxes on owners of businesses will be passed on to customers who are also taxpayers.

It is, however, a basic reality that regardless of how the tax burden may be allocated among the different classes of tax-payers, the total tax revenues are directly related to the amount of spending. Assessments in recent years have risen alarmingly, but if spending had not also soared, tax amounts could have been controlled by rate reductions. Our government wants us to think that since assessments are up, taxes must be also.

Not so.

Taxes are up because of our county’s lavish spending.

Mr. Kalapa succumbs to the rhetoric espoused by our county officials that if tax-payers pay lower taxes the officials must decide which services are to be pared back or done without. That is the last resort. The first step is to see if the services can be provided more efficiently. If the economies from doing things better are not enough, then a service reduction may be in order. Observers tell me there are many, many ways that cost savings could occur with a better management of our county operations and resources.

Mr. Kalapa is certainly right about one thing, our county leaders have an accountability to the taxpayers to inform them about their spending plans and to solicit approval for the taxes necessary to pay for them.

  • Walter Lewis

Are letter writers fools?

I got a huge kick out of Mike Austin’s letter Jan. 30 in The Garden Island. Imagine … writing a letter to the editor complaining about people who write letters to the editor. Even more hilarious is that, in his letter to the editor, Mr. Austin implies that people who write letters to the editor are fools. Hopefully, Mr. Austin has a good friend who can explain the irony to him.

Here is a little advice, Mike. Treat the newspaper as you would a library or a book store. You don’t have to read everything in it. If something doesn’t interest you then just move on. Read the funnies or the horoscopes … whatever strikes your fancy. There are many other people on this island who are interested in these subjects. If you want a newspaper that only prints things of interest to Mike Austin, then you will have to start your own paper.

  • Brian Christensen

Happy to be smoke free

Those of us who work to create more smoke-free public areas awoke to outstanding news Monday morning as we turned to page 2 of The Garden Island and read this headline: “No smoking allowed at Lihue Airport.”

Tobacco-Free Kaua’i has been trying for at least three years to have this state facility go smoke free for the sake of travelers’ health. We met with the former manager and acting manager of the airport. We wrote letters to the governor. We gathered more than 2,000 signatures from Kauaians, petitioning this public facility to go smoke free. We even went to the State Ombudsman’s office seeking a ruling on the legality of having an enclosed public space allow smoking. In the end, we are not sure what tipped the balance in our favor, but we are grateful to all who made this public-health policy change happen.

So what does it all mean? Now, cancer patients traveling to Oahu for treatment will no longer pass through air polluted with carcinogens. Anyone with heart problems — even those who don’t know they have them — will significantly lower their risk of a heart attack. Asthmatics no longer will have to hold their breath to ward off an attack as they hurry to their departure gate. People with smoke allergies will not have to worry about poison clouds. Workers in the airport shops no longer will be forced to breathe contaminated air all day. And the general public, the vast majority of whom (80 percent) do not smoke, can now breathe clean air when they travel.

Changes in public policy do not happen in a vacuum. Tobacco-Free Kauai is proud to have led the effort to make this change for everyone.

We are very optimistic that the state will pass a strong smoke-free workplace law during this legislative session that will make more and more public spaces and workplaces smoke free. After all, working an eight-hour shift in a smokefilled environment is equal to smoking a pack a day.

With Lihue and Hilo airports setting good examples, we are hopeful that Honolulu International and others soon will follow suit.

  • Charles E. Roessler
    Tobacco-Free Kauai

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