The State’s County Mayors briefed a joint session of the Senate and House Finance Committees today.
All four county mayors support the Governor’s plan to remove the Transient Accommodations Tax restriction, which is currently capped at $103-million for the counties and provide them with a 23.1% share. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell chairs the council of mayors.
“We’ve come together as mayors, as we have in the past, and we’re asking to consider increasing the Transient Accommodations Taxes. We appreciate the efforts by the executive branch has put in to basing in on a percentage, we want to continue that dialogue. We rise, we fall, along with the state, based on a percentage.”
The Council of Mayors also supports the Big Island’s request for 155-million dollars for disaster recovery funding for the volcano eruption in Puna last year. In terms of the TAT, Mayor Harry Kim says he needs all of the state’s funding and he would like to be able to use the .5 percent general excise tax for purposes other than transportation.
“This is only my second year and in the first year we had to raise the two taxes including the property tax. We need the General Excise Tax, we need the TAT to help us just balance the budget. N preparing for this coming year, as far as budget proposal, that additional cuts will have to be made, including the ugliness of laying off people, which we do not want.”
Maui Mayor, Michael Victorino, wants the state to help move parts of the Pi’ilani Highway inland before it is engulfed by the ocean. Victorino also says he’s willing to gamble on the TAT giveback but also wants to collect the .5 percent General Excise Tax for the county.
“We’ve had reluctance in Maui to the half-a-percent. All of the other counties have and we’re the only one that hasn’t. But, I think it runs out in March 31, 2019. I sent down a bill asking to extend it to March 31, 2020, so that I can implement that and get it as part of our package.”
Kaua’I Mayor, Derek Kawakami, also supports the TAT give-back to the counties, but, says he needs the state’s help in tackling his toughest problem.
“One in eight homes on Kaua’i is a vacation rental. So, we’re asking the Legislature, very humbly, again, to take a look at amortization language, so that, should they transfer ownership, we have the ability to evaporate that use when I changes ownership. Our communities need to be able to take our neighborhoods back.”
The Mayors were asked by lawmakers to continue the discussion.
Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.