WMTA Shares these commentaries, without taking a position unless otherwise noted, to bring information to our readers
To view the archives of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii's commentary click here.
A few months ago, we tried to remind folks about “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” There we reported that we had been getting lots of news about our economy, and none of it was good.
This month, the University of Hawaii’s economics research organization, UHERO, released its third quarter economic outlook on Hawaii. The title of the paper wasn’t exactly comforting: “Already Weak, Hawaii’s Prospects Look Increasingly Dicey.” “All told,” the report stated, “the outlook is for Hawaii to tread water over the next few years, vulnerable to waves that could well pull us under.”
What has gotten us to this point? One problem is our population, which fell in both 2017 and 2018. This decline isn’t simply due to reassignment of active duty military. As multiple news sources have been confirming, people have been, and are, leaving our fair shores. “[L]ikely responding to better work opportunities and lower living costs on the US mainland,” the UHERO study says.
Policymakers take note! We, among many others, have long warned that if government squeezes our population too hard with taxes, regulations, and other impediments, people will vote. Not necessarily at the ballot box, but with their feet. UHERO has looked at the hard numbers, and they see that people are in fact taking their business elsewhere. Are you concerned about population decline? Or about “brain drain”? Then don’t deny the problem any longer. We need to do something about our cost of living. And by the way, what happens when the cost of government stays the same but the number of people contributing to that cost decreases? More cost per person results, which adds pressure to lawmakers to increase taxes and jack up our cost of living even more.
Can the problem be solved by squeezing our tourism industry further instead of our general population? UHERO observed that the number of visitors in Hawaii on a typical day is flatlining, and visitor spending is trending downward. They are seeing “a sharp pullback in international markets, where the number of visitor days has declined across all major market segments.” More visitors may be arriving, but they are spending less. Translation: Tourists are taking their business elsewhere as well. Some of that may be due to federal action such as increased tariffs and strength of the dollar relative to other world currencies, but we probably are already at the point where further squeezing of the visitor market gives us economic trouble.
On that front, the recent political spats about transient vacation rentals and the resulting crackdowns in Honolulu, Maui, and other counties have already put a big dent in the supply of places where tourists can be housed. UHERO says that the crackdown on Oahu alone caused a greater than 8% drop in Oahu’s overall number of units available for visitor accommodations. Maybe some or many of those places were illegal in the first place, but the economic result is in any event further squeezing that industry sector. Now isn’t the right time to attack it further.
As policymakers begin their annual debate on how to finance government, they should consider that most of our tax laws depend on business activity. When the economic engine we call business makes money, they make money. Are we going to put more brakes on the engine with more taxes, fees, and regulations? Instead, we should be bending over backwards to find ways to help the engine spin faster.
October 1- 2019
President, West Maui Taxpayers Association
Member, Rotary Club of Lahaina
PRESS RELEASE-- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAYOR MICHAEL VICTORINO TO DISCUSS WEST MAUI EMERGENCY PLANNING WITH COMMUNITY ON Tuesday, OCTOBER 29th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Keopuolani Hall of Waiola Church – 535 Wainee Street in Lahaina. Co-Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lahaina and West Maui Taxpayer's Association.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend and there is no cost for attendance. There will be snacks and beverages provided compliments of the WMTA.
After a devastating fire and flood event in Lahaina last year, the Mayor's administration has taken a proactive approach to strategically synergize Maui Emergency Management Planning with the West Maui Taxpayer Association's West Maui Emergency Plan.
The Draft WMTA Emergency Plan can be viewed on their web site at www.westmaui.org. WMTA believes what their consultant emergency expert Dennis Terpin has stated and that is...“All planning processes should take an “All Hazards” Approach and the purpose of After-Action Reports allows all stakeholders to identify strengths and areas for improvement through a review of the effectiveness of preparedness and planning efforts for such an incident or an event. Corrective actions and lessons learned will be identified to create opportunities for improvement.
We look forward to the Mayor's leadership in necessary improvements to Emergency Planning based on his review of these After Action Reports on West Maui.
Please contact WMTA for any questions; Joseph D Pluta, President 808-661-7990
From Email to President Joseph Pluta (and other individuals) from County of Maui Maui Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
"...below you will find some information about retrofitting homes to withstand major hurricane strength winds.
In 2010, FEMA developed guidance on retroftting your home to withstand a major hurricane to encourage mitigation of existing buildings in hurricane-prone areas. According to the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) 7-05, the entire state of Hawaii is in hurricane-prone area. There are three (3) levels of mitigation measures when selecting a retrofit project for your home. They are: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Basic (or Intermediate) Retrofit: This measure focuses mainly on the building envelope such as enhancing the roof system, attic ventilation, wall structure, integrity, openings (windows, skylights, doors...etc.) and other attached structures.
Some examples of Basic and Intermediate retrofits are:
Some examples of the Advanced retrofits are:
(see: http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1424368115734-86cfbaeb456f7c1d57a05d3e8e08a4bd/FINAL_WindRetrofit_BCA_JobAid_13FEB15_508complete.pdf) they estimate a cost of an intermediate retrofit to be ~$24,000 (roof retrofit included). MEMA would strongly encourage the adoption of these FEMA guidelines into the future Lahaina building code. We also hope the county as a whole will adopt these guidelines in conjunction with a modern building code.
Download links to documentation.
Please see FEMA P-804 (attached) Chapter 3 + 4 for an in-depth review of homeowner retrofits.
Executive summary of P-804