By: TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
Source: May 2004 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column
Goldman Sachs Reduces Fees:
`Ano`ai kakou… Back in March I questioned why one of OHA’s two investment managers, Goldman Sachs, charged us $53,878 more for their services than our other investment manager, Frank Russell, despite the fact that as of December 31, 2003, Frank Russell Company made $500,000 more for OHA.
I’m pleased to report that on April 6, 2004, our new Chief Financial Officer reported that Goldman Sachs has “reviewed their fee schedule which provided annual savings of $50,000.” I can’t say for certain whether my complaints had any impact on their decision, but it was more than a coincidence that they immediately matched Frank Russell’s fees within a three week time frame. I’m glad that Goldman Sachs has provided OHA with some relief from their high fees.
A substitute version of the Akaka bill has been drafted to clarify its language and to address concerns about the suggested process for recognition. The administration has drafted a side-by-side comparison of the new and old versions of the bill and an electronic version is available at nativehawaiians.com.
OHA Legislative Package:
One of the bills that I really pushed hard for at the legislature this session was Senate Bill 2759 – Relating to Real Property Taxes on Kuleana Land. Many Hawaiian families living on kuleana lands face the loss of their legacy as well as the potential for homelessness because they cannot afford the property tax assessments based on the supposed “fair market value.” For example, the heavy development of the Kona coastline is causing property values to sky-rocket and forcing families on kuleana lands to pay higher property taxes. There has even been a case where a family has asked OHA to take custody of their Kuleana Lands until they were able to save up enough money to pay off their back taxes. Further delays will only worsen their suffering.
The bill passed all of its Senate committees and looked set to cross over to the House for consideration when suddenly, without explanation, it was “recommitted” or sent back to its original Senate committee. I have never heard of a bill being killed in this fashion. I know that most people are frazzled and dazzled by the convoluted legislative process, but let me assure you that it can even happen to elected officials.
Through the grapevine, I heard that one of the neighbor island counties commissioners had some concerns about the bill’s impact on county property tax revenues and without any hearing to discuss their concerns, SENATOR HANABUSA recommitted the bill to her committee. It has been estimated (though not yet confirmed) that kuleana lands make up less than 15,000 acres or less than 0.5% of the total state acreage. The impact to county tax revenues would be miniscule at best.
Getting all four counties to agree to exempt Kuleana Lands from property taxes could take years to accomplish. If anyone knows of a faster way to provide Hawaiian families on kuleana lands with immediate relief other than passing a bill, I’d like to hear it.
Report Card for Legislators:
I’m not sure whether our state legislators are aware of this but, at the end of this session, OHA plans to grade each Senator and Representative based on how they voted on Hawaiian issues. Their grades will be published here in the Ka Wai Ola before the election. I encourage our regular readers to keep a look out for it and help our friends and crush our enemies. We must collectively show all elected officials that Hawaiian votes will count in the next and future elections. Our voices will be heard! Imua Hawaii Nei…