The Other Local Economic Impact of the Kilauea Eruption

An aerial view of an active lava flow near Kilauea on the Big Island.

An aerial view of an active lava flow near Kilauea on the Big Island. Hawai`i County Fire Department

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | A new idea to fund state pensions in Kentucky … this California county has the most wind turbines in the nation … and Atlantic City’s worst days are behind it.

Here are state and local government stories that caught Route Fifty's attention ...

  • Hawaii County, Hawaii: The continued eruptive activity at the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island has prompted many vacation-goers to change their plans, which is a big problem for an island where tourist dollars are critically important. But there’s a different economic impact that doesn’t involve tourists: Officials in Hawaii County, which encompasses the Big Island, fear lost property values and local tax revenue. Two subdivisions impacted by lava flows and evacuations, Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, generate $1.2 million annually for county tax coffers. [Honolulu Civil Beat]
  • Frankfort, Kentucky: Some officials in the Bluegrass State think the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that gives states the green light to permit sports betting “provides an outstanding opportunity to provide badly needed funding for public pensions.” [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • Kern County, California: The U.S. Geological Survey has determined that this large jurisdiction north of Los Angeles has more wind turbines than any other county in the nation. That’s 4,581 wind turbines to be exact, which is “enough to power between 1.2 million and 2.9 million homes.” [Bakersfield Californian]
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Mayor Eric Papenfuse thinks that his fiscally strapped city, which is under state financial oversight through Act 47, would be a great place for medical marijuana businesses. "On the grower facility end, you are looking at a number of different companies that want to invest $10 million-plus,” the mayor said. [WHTM-TV]
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Although the city won an Iowa Supreme Court legal victory last month in a case that challenged its speed cameras, local officials aren’t rushing to flip a switch to reactivate the controversial automated enforcement cameras. [The Gazette]
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey: Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver has declared that Atlantic City’s worst days are behind it. But that doesn’t mean that the situation is good enough that the city can reassume jurisdiction over its own finances.  “The state will not relinquish oversight in the near term,” she said. “However, the ultimate goal is to return to local control and decision making back to the city as soon as it has the capacity to run on its own.” [WHYY]
  • Portland, Oregon: Due to state green building guidelines for new public facilities, the new 17-story, $325 million Multnomah County Courthouse has some pricey solar features that “will take 109 years for taxpayers to recoup their investment.” [Willamette Week]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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