Honolulu budget gap could nearly double

Fidel Tapon
Fidel Tapon
Robert Whitaker
Robert Whitaker

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Honolulu's $50 million shortfall could nearly double. On Monday, the Budget Committee confronted the possibility the city could fall $43 million deeper in the hole.

It all has to do with the Transient Accommodation Tax. That's the tax people pay when they book a hotel.

City leaders say the State is thinking of taking the money Honolulu makes from that tax to plug up the State's own deficit.

It's a dilemma for the City and County of Honolulu, which already faces a long list of proposed tax and fee hikes.

Tax on the weight of your vehicle is among the list of proposed hikes Honolulu leaders are looking at - from $.03 per pound, to $.04 next year, then $.05 per pound in 2011.

So if your car weighs 4000 pounds, you currently pay $120. If the proposed city tax hike is implemented, you'd pay $160 next year, then $200 the following year.

"If they're raising the price, we cannot help. So I have to pay the right amount because we need a way for transportation to work," said Fidel Tapon, a motorist.

Another proposed hike - bus fares. It'd be a quarter more on a daily basis, $10 more for a monthly pass, and $110 dollars more for an annual pass.

"I'm angry about it but I know it's a necessary increase. I can understand them a little bit but it's too big," said bus rider Robert Whitaker.

Golfing at municipal courses could also be more expensive, around $3 more for the 2009 fiscal year beginning in July, then another $1 more in 2010.

At the Honolulu Zoo, four and five-year-olds would no longer get in for free, kamaaina admission would go up from $4 to $6 dollars, and from $8 to $12 dollars for non-Hawaii residents.

Committee members passed the proposed budget this afternoon, assuming the state won't take the $43 million from Honolulu.

The plan goes before the Honolulu City Council next week for a second reading.

A final budget should be in by June.