Letters for Friday, August 29, 2008

• We need ability to stay in homes

• Simple math

• Kaua‘i’s traffic fatalities

• All should be heard

We need ability to stay in homes

Our County Council doesn’t seem to get it. It doesn’t matter to most of us that their proposed new tax plan may give homeowners slightly lower tax rates than the current plan. What we really want is peace of mind. The current 2 percent cap plan gives us that. I remember every time a neighbor sold a home, I wondered how the new valuation would impact our ability to stay in our home. The 2 percent cap gives us peace of mind. I also remember property appraisers coming to my house telling me I should move if I couldn’t afford to pay the taxes of the rising valuation of my home.

We need council to be a buffer between the real property tax department and the homeowner. Certain council members say that as our families get smaller, we should move to a smaller home and sell our house. In their thinking, we may be trapped in our homes and afraid to move out, because we might move into a home with higher taxes than we currently have with the 2 percent cap. The 2 percent cap is a problem I would rather have, and keep my home than be a victim of unknown increases due to valuations. My recommendation to council is to give the homeowners a choice. Sign up for a 2 percent annual guarantee increase or go with a valuation plan. Whichever one the homeowner signs up for is the plan that remains as long as they are in their home. At 2 percent per year, taxes would double over a 30-year period. The current plan under consideration seems to be empire building for the tax department. They will need more appraisers, more people to handle tax appeals, and a much larger staff, which will be a burden on the tax payers. The 2 percent plan would guarantee a 2 percent increase on people who stay in their homes. And, when the home is sold, the 2 percent plan would be applied to the price paid for a home.

Previously, 75 percent of voters agreed with this 2 percent cap plan when it was on the ballot. Soon after, council enacted a 2 percent plan, after it was determined that the voters could not pass tax issues. Only the council has this privilege. I ask for council to abide by the will of the people and I also ask the voters to support those running for a seat on council who also support a 2 percent cap. Prior to the 2 percent cap, the county was worried that they wouldn’t have enough money in the budget. Since the implementation of this, the revenues have increased beyond expectations. A few council members have talked about deferring the decision of a new plan, and I urge them to do so. I also urge the new County Council to handle this issue favoring a guaranteed 2 percent increase per year instead of the current proposed plan.

Bill Steed


Simple math

Recently I received an e-mail from a friend back on the Mainland who was writing to invite me to our 30-year high school reunion. That’s the kind of letter that makes you feel old. But it also made me nostalgic for the faces I haven’t seen in many years. I started thinking about my math teacher who was so dedicated. He took a very abstract subject and made it real and practical for us. Here is a simple example of the things he used to teach us.

Currently I live in Kapa‘a and I work in Lihu‘e which is about 6 miles away. The speed limit on Kuhio Highway is 50 mph, which equals .83 miles per minute. At this rate it will take me 7.23 minutes to cover the distance from Kuamo‘o stop light to Ahukini stop light (using the formula: Rate X Time = Distance).

If I drive faster I will get to work quicker. 90 mph is the same as 1.5 miles per minute. Using the same formula, I can get from Kapa‘a to Lihu‘e in only 4 minutes which is 3.23 minutes faster than if I drive 50 mph. But in order for me to save those 3 minutes I have to maintain 90 mph the entire distance and not slow down for curves, hills, traffic or pedestrians. If I do slow down, then I don’t get the whole 3 minutes.

Now 3 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but take a look around you the next time you’re on Kuhio Highway and you’ll see plenty of folks who are quite determined to get those 3 minutes, or at least 1 or 2 minutes.

It doesn’t make sense to me. But if the reasoning in this letter makes sense to you, then thank your math teacher.

Nicholas Ledington-Fischer


Kaua‘i’s traffic fatalities

Since Kuhio Highway was widened in the early 1980s, I’ve felt — and have advised the state Department of Transportation Highways Division — that the Wailua stretch is dangerous: the lanes are too narrow, the shoulders are insufficient and the posted speed limit is too high.

In the first six months that the roadway was open, there were 11 fatalities as I recall — many due to speed and/or DUI.

As a bicyclist who rides the corridor between Lihu‘e and Kapa‘a almost daily, it’s my observation that many drivers have little regard for the posted speed limit — and equally little consciousness about the potential consequences of their actions.

If the speed limit was reduced to 40 mph or 45 mph, perhaps the speeders would be tempted to go only 50 or 55 instead of the current and common 60 to 70 or 75.

Obviously, infrastructure has not kept pace with Kaua‘i’s growth. There are numerous resolutions to this quandary — ranging from people leaving the island (thus reducing the population) to increased taxes that would fund upgrading of our roadways.

In the short term, perhaps if we all just slowed down we could make do with what we have. Carpooling, riding the bus, bicycling and moped riding are other measures.

Perhaps each of us should look in the mirror and ask ourselves what contribution we’re going to make to address our common issue.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of all of Kaua‘i’s traffic fatalities.

Ann Leighton, bicyclist


All should be heard

In response to Juan Wilson’s letter to the editor crying about unfair Superferry anniversary coverage (“Biased ferry coverage,” Letters, Aug. 27):

Juan and his entourage should know I did not stand alone, I was representing the many people who told me they were afraid to come and participate because of past violent incidents.

The organizers welcomed me with aloha, but others by the harbor threw rocks and profanities at me.

The Garden Island paper reported it exactly as it happened.

I feel Dennis Fujimoto’s photo told the whole story.

The anti-ferry people have dominated the press concerning their anti-American views for the last year. The group is small and does not represent the majority of people on Kaua‘i.

Juan Wilson should be thanking The Garden Island newspaper for past coverage of all anti-ferry events, which had more play than needed. Juan says he welcomes opposing opinions … the proof is in the pudding, he obviously doesn’t. Just read his Wednesday letter in The Garden Island.

What’s fair is fair. I feel it was about time the pro-ferry people got heard, and I was proud to represent every one of them.

Remember, what’s fair is Superferry.

Kimo Rosen



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