Letters for April 19, 2016
A poem for Blackpot
A place that sits on the edge of
The mountains stand tall, ever so
This beautiful spot in the country
The ocean may roar, the clouds
The rainbow that arches across
Birds that take flight closely by
The children that play in the
water so blue
The surfers that paddle out with a
friend or two
The people that gather with
instruments in hand
The beautiful voices that sing of
this precious land
The man by the grill is cooking
A child telling her mom about all
Fishermen coming in as the sun
Kids running to the boats to see
in their nets
So look around, look at all that
This magical spot we call Hanalei
Concerns about tax increase
We read with great interest the report concerning raising the GET to generate more tax revenue for the County of Kauai. We have also heard rumors of the county increasing the TAT as the state apparently does not give Kauai its fair share of the TAT generated revenue.
Meanwhile there are currently 102 hotel/resorts statewide that have quietly converted formerly free services provided in room rates to dubious, mandatory “resort or amenity fees.” This is expressly to avoid paying the 9.25 percent TAT. In 2015 alone, $271 million of resort fees went untaxed for a loss of $25.1 million to the state. These fees include such services once free — Internet, local/long distance calls, in-room safe, wake-up calls … on and on.
Kauai, alone, has 18 properties that avoided the $2.1 million in TAT that could have been earned on the $23.6 million that hotels pocketed on resort fees. Aston Islander on the Beach took laundry room privileges away from private owners so they could include it as a resort fee for Aston guests only. We only hope that they Aston guests realize the entire AOAO pays for the upkeep of this property and the repayment of the $1 million assessment to improve all the buildings on this site.
All these hotel/resort fees and the revenue each hotel generated can be found online at www.travel-hawaii.com/hawaiiresortfees.html.
Now comes Expedia’s purchase of VRBO and the new 4 to 9 percent service fee added to renters bills that goes directly into Expedia’s pocket — TAT free.
It’s time the state focuses on this issue.
Whose responsibility is it?
Tom Pickett wrote that some of his employees live in tents or vehicles or in county parks. Many of our homeless workers are recent transients who have been lured here by the wonders of the island but stay because they are able to find jobs to pay for their food and transportation. The number of tourists continues to increase and hence the need for more employees and more housing for those who come from elsewhere and take jobs here.
I suggest that the business people who need these employees accept the responsibility to provide them housing. Why does the Chamber of Commerce consider that it is doing the island a great favor by providing low paying jobs and “growing the economy” but passes the responsibility for providing low-income housing on to us via our county government?
Princeville shops at one time negotiated to provide a large amount of housing in return for being able to expand its shopping facilities. They finally renegotiated to less than 60 percent of the original promise and built units that filled up immediately. I’m sure the stores in Princeville hire many more employees than the 46 or so units that were built.
I’d like to see the business organizations step up to the plate and work together to provide areas for building more low-income housing for their employees. They may also have to increase wages so that their employees can afford to live there.
We don’t need more tourists to improve the economy; we need more businesses to consider the entire process of providing service to the tourists we already have. That includes helping to provide housing for their employees.