Dogs, taxes, rentals, trees, etc.

LIHUE — Several committees at the Kauai County Council are scheduled to work today on more than a handful of proposals, some of which have attracted passionate testimony during previous public hearings or meetings.

Bill 2490 raises dog license fees considerably. In its current language, the bill raises to $15 from $2 the two-year dog license for animals that are spayed or neutered.

For unaltered animals, the bill raises the license to $50 from $6.

Hunters would lose an exemption that allows them to pay $6 for one dog, and $2 for each subsequent dog every two years.

Some hunters have vehemently opposed to this, and have testified the proposals could mean a $1,000 annual bill for an average hunter with 20 dogs.

Meanwhile, Councilman Mel Rapozo will ask his colleagues to include in the 2014 County of Kauai Legislative Package a bill to repeal a section of the Hawaii Revised Statutes which mandates the County of Kauai to contract with the Kauai Humane Society to seize and impound unlicensed dogs.

“Unlike the three other counties in the state of Hawaii, the County of Kauai is the only county mandated to contract with the Kauai Humane Society regarding the seizing and impoundment of unlicensed dogs,” Rapozo wrote in a communication to the council.

Due to lack of funding, he said, KHS decreased weekend hours, which may interfere with the state law.

To avoid violations, it is necessary to repeal the law for “financial and obligatory reasons,” according to Rapozo.

“The county will still have an active role in regulating the seizing and impoundment of unlicensed dogs,” he said.

Bill 2495 is the last stage of a three-year real property tax reform. Among other things, the bill adds higher exemptions for resident homeowners, eliminates a tax cap, raises the minimum tax for credit unions to $1,500 from $25 and adds exemptions for long-term affordable rentals.

Some retired residents on a fixed income have said the value of their homes have increased considerably in the last decade, and they would see a significant increase in taxes with the cap removal.

The bill attempts to fix this by introducing a home preservation credit, and those who qualify would be charged 3 percent of their income in taxes.

Bill 2493 fixes a glitch in the county’s Exceptional Tree Ordinance. A coconut grove in Waipouli was protected in 1976 under the ordinance.

But in 1981 the property was subdivided into two tax map keys, which are not listed in the ordinance.

The bill brings the ordinance back in line with its intent, by redesignating the grove as protected. However, Longs Drugs CV is seeking permits to build a new store on the same property, and the plans include replacing most, if not all, centenary trees with seedlings.

Rapozo is also asking his colleagues for support to include in the 2014 County of Kauai and Hawaii State Association of Counties legislative packages a proposal to repeal a sunset date for liability for county lifeguards working on state beaches. The liability is supposed to sunset June 30, 2014.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura will ask the council to include in the 2014 County of Kauai and HSAC legislative packages a pair of proposals to fine-tune the state law requiring solar water heating on new construction of single-family and duplex homes.

In order to address the large number of homes that benefited from a variance that allows on-demand gas, especially on Kauai, Yukimura is asking for an amendment to the state law to require that the end owner, “who will pay for the long-term cost of the variance,” be the one applying for the variance.

Yukimura is also suggesting that county agencies should be the ones processing waivers rather than state agencies.

“Your consideration and support for this draft bill will move Hawaii toward energy independence, and will also be a step in reducing Hawaii’s contribution of greenhouse gases,” she wrote to her colleagues.

Bill 2489 cleans up language in the county’s ordinance dealing with low- and moderate-income housing and long-term affordable rentals.

Property for a housing project or low- and moderate-income housing which is owned or operated by a qualified entity would be exempt from property taxes.

Bill 2494 raises to $1,000 from $500 the ceiling which the administration or the council can contract services without a competitive bid.

The bill also extends to one year, from a previous six-month period, the amount of time a former county officer or employee has to wait to assist or represent any person or company in business with the county.

Bill 2492 authorizes issuance of up to $60 million in general obligation bonds to finance capital improvement projects by the county Department of Water during the current fiscal year.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

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