County Council Update

The Waimea Taiko Drum Club led by Kathy Matsuda performed at the North Kohala 2015 Reunion over the Fourth of July weekend. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MARGARET WILLE)

BUSY TIMES! Over the next couple months, I have a number of bills going through Council, which include:

1. An Ethics Bill to raise the County’s ethical standards and prevent some conflicts of interest.

2. A Zero Waste Bill that would allow haulers (with pickup truck loads of up to six cubic yards) to bring their loads to most transfer stations, would set limits on the amount of landfill trash that can be deposited at transfer stations, and would allow the Director of the Environmental Management Department to divert some amount of trash from the East side to the Puuanahulu Landfill in order to save a hefty quantity of taxpayer dollars — a savings of $60,000 to $70,000 per month! If you are scratching your head asking how can bringing more trash to the landfill save us so much money you are not alone. The County now brings around 285 to 290 tons of trash per day to the Puuanahulu landfill. If we raise that figure to 300 or more tons per day, the price per ton is substantially lower.

3. A “Toxic Herbicide” Bill that would prohibit the use of toxic herbicides, such as those containing glyphosate, in County parks and along County owned and maintained roadways and sidewalks, and waterways.

4. A “General Plan” Resolution suggesting changes in the policies and goals contained in our County General Plan, which Resolution would be forwarded to the Planning Department so that department can work on strategies and action options based on my and other council members suggestions. Much more community involvement to come!

5. An Agriculture Exemption Bill that would tighten up the Ag Use exemption to ensure that those who are eligible for the reduced taxes are in fact engaged in bona fide agricultural activities. This bill will also contain an optional open space tax reduction for agriculturally zoned land that is being held for future agricultural use.

6. An Ag-Tourism Bill that would allow for more tourism on agriculturally zoned lands but with some qualifications to protect neighboring properties from negative impacts.

FUN TIMES! Great Fourth of July Weekend! First attending the Parker Ranch Rodeo, with extraordinary talent, the glory of our community’s paniolo culture – ours to behold and applaud. So great to see all the kids appreciating this way of life. A big mahalo to all the folks at Parker Ranch for sharing with us.

Then attending some of the North Kohala Community Reunion events, including the opening of the community’s new radio station and amazing displays of North Kohala’s heritage and wide range of spectacular community efforts, such as preserving historic sites through the Public Access and Open Space Commission.

INTERESTING TIMES! For the first time I attended the National Association of Counties (NACo) annual conference held this year in Charlotte, NC. The attendees were city and county council members from all across the nation. This event was made more interesting because I was asked to be a speaker on one of the program panels. This was a good opportunity to hear what is happening at the local level around that nation, and see how we can collaborate to benefit all of our County and city efforts to care for our constituents.

If you are interested in more information about any of the above, want to check on the status of any of these proposed bills or be on my email newsletter list, please call my office at 887-2043.

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