Counties lobby to keep hotel tax - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Counties lobby to keep hotel tax

Billy Kenoi Billy Kenoi

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state and the four counties are squabbling over nearly $100 million collected from the transient accommodations tax. Every hotel room is taxed by the state which then splits it amongst each county. But the state wants to keep that money for the next three years to help balance the budget.

County mayors are fighting the move urging lawmakers to kill the bill because they depend on that money to maintain critical services visitors use.

"That visitor then goes and drives on a county road, visits a county park, when in trouble utilizes the services of a county lifeguard, calls county police, calls county fire, goes to the hotel room to brush teeth county water, flush toilet county sewer, throw away rubbish its picked up by county workers, and yet not one time is the counties compensated for those delivery of services to the critical hospitality industry," testified Billy Kenoi, Big Island Mayor, before the House Finance Committee today at the state capitol.

The Big Island's share of the hotel tax is $18.1 million. Oahu gets $43 million, Maui $22.2 million and Kauai $14.1 million.

County mayors say without that money essential services will be cut which will hurt everyone. They argue the money means much more to the counties than it does to the state.

The state finance committee is expected to vote on the issue next week.

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