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Monday, December 19, 2022
December 19, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:22 PM :: 1764 Views

Counties should not profit from Hawaii's housing crisis

‘My life changed’: Property owners appeal steep increases in taxes

HTH: … Of the 835 total appeals, 537 assessments were reduced by at least some amount, said county Real Property Tax Administrator Lisa Miura. She attributed the increases to the increased real estate market, which drove assessments up based on sales.

Nelson Harano, a five-year board member and current chairman, said this year’s tenure was “especially difficult” for all the board because of the significant increase in property valuations.

“From my perspective, looking across the meeting room at appellants has been disheartening,” Harano said in comments at the end of the report. “Significant increases in property values and resultant increase in one’s property tax bill have strained financial resources to pay the property tax bill.”

One example is 70-year-old James Again of Pahoa, one of four property owners filing complaints with the board after the deadline for appeals had past.

“My life changed when I got the 2022 real property tax assessment near the end of March,” Again said in a Sept. 17 letter written in longhand.

Again’s property tax bill he’d been paying the past 18 years went from the $200 minimum tax to $1,127.61 based on his property assessment being adjusted from $11,100 to $120,600. He said he’s trying to live on his $722 monthly Social Security check….

Dec 14, 2022: 2023 Real Property Assessments up 12.4%

SA: Property assessments increased unjustly

read … ‘My life changed’: Property owners appeal steep increases in taxes

Hawaii Medicaid enrollment up 40% since start of pandemic

SA: … Hawaii’s soaring enrollment numbers have climbed steadily since March 2020 when the pandemic decimated the economy. The state’s unemployment rate hit a high of 24% in April 2020 and still stood at 9.3% by the end of the pandemic’s first year.

As thousands of Hawaii residents lost their jobs and employer-sponsored health care coverage, they turned to Medicaid. But even as people returned to work and the unemployment rate declined to about 4% by the end of 2021, Hawaii’s Medicaid enrollment continued to increase.

Peterson said that’s because the state was required to keep covering anyone who had Medicaid as of March 2020, regardless of income and other eligibility requirements. Under Congress’ Families First Coronavirus Act, Medicaid recipients could lose their Medicaid coverage only if they canceled their insurance with the state, died or if the state verified that they had moved out of state….

(Translation: Medicaid fraud is allowed.)

“We had a lot of people applying for Medicaid and then they’re not being dropped, so that combination of things did lead to this huge increase,” she said.

Peterson said some people likely resumed their employer-based coverage when they went back to work but never contacted the state to ask that their Medicaid be discontinued, so they now have two sources of health insurance.

Despite the big jump in Medicaid enrollment, she said it hasn’t actually cost the state more, in part because the federal government increased its matching funds by 6.2 percentage points. Medicaid is funded by both the federal and state governments….

read … Hawaii Medicaid enrollment up 40% since start of pandemic

Ala Wai flood plans approach final form

SA: … It looks like a second ocean outlet for the Ala Wai Canal is off the table in the ongoing planning process aimed at preventing a flooding disaster in Waikiki and neighboring communities.

So is making Kapiolani Park a sizable detention basin, as well as underwriting proposed green solutions such as removing invasive trees and planting native ones in the watershed.

Still under consideration: those controversial concrete flood walls around the Ala Wai Canal, now tentatively planned to be 6 feet tall.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city last week unveiled their latest flood risk management planning efforts during a virtual online workshop. The project has been narrowed to three action proposals.

A fourth proposal would have authorities doing nothing, which would leave Waikiki and surrounding communities (Corps of Engineers crony contractors)exposed to potential disaster in the form of flooding from a large storm (no make-work contracts after all this effort to bamboozle the public.)….

read … Ala Wai flood plans approach final form

33 Years Later Maui County Considers Leasing Land On Lanai for Ag Park

CB: … The state Land Use Commission in 1991 granted its petition to reclassify land from rural and agricultural uses to urban uses, paving the way for the construction of the Jack Nicklaus designed Manele Golf Course.

As a condition of the land use reclassification, the commission ordered Castle & Cooke to commit to leasing 100 acres to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture or Maui County for an agricultural park.

Ultimately, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources acquired 100 undeveloped acres on Lanai from Castle & Cooke in July 1994 for $100 a year for a 55-year term. The Board recommended that the DOA develop the site into the first state agricultural park on the 140-square mile island.

But the DOA never took possession of the land and the agricultural park was never built. Staff at the DOA recently indicated that the department “did not have any interest in establishing an agricultural park at the site,” according to minutes from a November BLNR meeting….

(This is what’s wrong with relying on government.  You can literally spend an entire lifetime waiting for the slightest action.)

Now Maui County — with its newly minted agriculture department — has the chance to take over the lease and finally (pretend to) develop a park where small farmers on Lanai could lease plots to grow food…

The site is remote, lacks necessary infrastructure and has a limited water supply. The county would need to fence in the property, pave an entry road, install windbreaks, subdivide the land into farm plots and more before it could start leasing acreage to farmers.

(Translation: Maui County would start another decades-long ‘waiting’ game for anybody relying on government to solve their problem.)

If the county decides against taking over the lease, the BLNR plans to terminate its lease and return the land to Pulama Lanai. The opportunity for local government to turn the land into an ag park for farmers would most likely vanish….

read … Maui County Considers Leasing Land On Lanai That Larry Ellison ‘Won’t Have A Say In’

A Gag Order In A Foster Death: When Child Welfare Secrecy Goes Too Far

CB: … After their 3-year-old son Fabian died from head injuries while in foster care, Sherri-Ann Garett and Juben Garcia went public.

In a Facebook post, Sheri-Ann wrote about Fabian and one of their two surviving children still in foster care, sharing their names. She identified the state social workers involved in the case and the foster parents.

Juben spoke to a television reporter, mentioning that his surviving children were still in foster care.

Five days later, the state Department of Human Services, which runs the state’s child welfare and foster care systems, went to court to block the parents from disclosing confidential information about the case.

A DHS social worker declared that Sherri-Ann had posted such information on Facebook. The worker wrote that she was concerned that the parents would keep releasing secret details unless the family court judge stopped them.

The judge granted the motion. Among other things, Garett and Garcia were ordered not to talk about the children being in foster care, the involvement of DHS, the foster parents or investigations into Fabian’s death…

Only when the parents’ lawyer objected, saying the order violated their First Amendment rights to free speech, did the judge scale it back. In the new order, Garett and Garcia were not to name their surviving children or release any records from the case….

read … A Gag Order In A Foster Death: When Child Welfare Secrecy Goes Too Far

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