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Honolulu Mayor Rolls Out Proposed 2020 Spending Plan

Wayne Yoshioka

Mayor Kirk Caldwell rolled out his $2.83-billion operating budget proposal today for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins July 1st.  He said real property and motor vehicle taxes are expected to bring in 120-million more but other taxes must go up to fund his spending plan. 






“One of things we are proposing is to increase the tax rate for hotels and resorts by a dollar.  So, right now it’s $12.90 per thousand dollars in value.  It’s gonna go up to $13.90 if the Council agrees.  That will raise about $17-million.  We’re proposing to increase real property tax rates for Residential A Tier 2 classes for over a million dollars.  We’re proposing another $1.50 per thousand dollars in value.  It would raise about $14 million.  We’re again proposing a Opala Refuse Fee Pick-up for residences.  We’re the only county who does not do that and so we’re proposing, for the residential neighborhoods, we’re proposing a trash fee of $5 per month or $60 per year.  So, we’re hoping that the Council will look at this and, hopefull,y it can move forward this year.“          


Mayor Caldwell's priorities

The Mayor’s priorities include allocating more than half of the operating budget for parks, sewers and roads, homelessness, climate change and police, fire, lifeguards and paramedics.  It also includes 6.7 million for rail transit support.  He also said he opposes the state’s proposal to remove the cap from the hotel room tax, known as the transient accommodations tax.  He said the bill would result in the City and County of Honolulu receiving less than the 45-million dollars it currently receives.  But, Interim Honolulu City Council chair, Ann Kobayashi, says she’s hopeful a final measure will be passed to help taxpayers.

Ann Kobayashi, Interim Honolulu City Council chair

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Ann Kobayashi, interim city council chair

“There’s always that hope that the legislature will look at the amount of services that the city does provide for the tourism industry and it’s up to the mayor – he does a good job when he goes over there to lobby for a greater share of that tax to come to the city.  Because, it’s certainly needed for all the infrastructure and the parks, etcetera.  Then, maybe that will also negate the need for a trash pickup fee.“       


The Mayor’s construction or capital improvement budget proposal is for 871-million, a 14 percent decrease from last year.  The Honolulu City Council will begin budget deliberations next month for final passage by the June 30th deadline.


Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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