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Maui Mayor, Seeking GET Tax Surcharge, Apologizes For Missed Deadline

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Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is asking the state Legislature to extend a deadline that will allow the county to impose a general excise tax surcharge on business activities such as sales of products.

Victorino's request was made Wednesday as mayors from across the state outlined their legislative packages and priorities to the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance committees.

Maui is the only county that does not have a GET surcharge so its tax stands at 4.1666%.

The City and County of Honolulu adopted a 0.5% surchage effective Jan. 1, 2007, bringing the tax on O?ahu to 4.712%. Kaua?i County's surcharge of 0.5%, raised its GET tax to 4.712% effective last year and Hawai?i Island's surcharge was phased in with the latest 0.5% increment taking effect this month and bringing its tax to 4.712%. Authority for the surcharges expires Dec. 31, 2030.

The counties were given several deadlines to pass surcharge ordinances, the last in March 2019.

During the legislative briefing, Victorino said he would take the blame for missing the deadline.

"I humbly apologize for taking so long for Maui County, but I, too, would like to have the GET [surcharge]. I would like that to be afforded us. And it’s not the fault of anybody in this room. It was just things did not work out," Victorino said.

In a written materials on the county's budget request to lawmakers, Victorino said the funds will be used for public transportation.

Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee said in a news release that lawmakers to extend the county's authority to establish a general excise tax surcharge through June 30, 2021. 

The county's legislative package also includes a request to grant the counties more power to combat online marketing of illegal transient accommodations and to lower the blood alcohol concentration threshhold from 0.08 to 0.05 for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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