HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Usually political candidates don't run on the idea of promoting a property tax increase but Donovan Dela Cruz says it's a way to add growth to urban Honolulu while keeping the country, country.
Dela Cruz says he is fully on board with the more than $5.5 billion rail project and he wants to win over even those that aren't supporters.
"A lot of people that say I don't want to pay for something that I'm not going to use. With the tax increment financing the very people who are living around the stations and will benefit from living around the transit oriented development and will pay for the necessary upgrades," said Dela Cruz.
The tax increment financing or TIF will not pay for the rail, but will help pave the way for development around the rail stations, namely city sewer system upgrades to make it easier for developers to build private mixed use business and residential buildings. The money would come from extra property taxes paid by those that live around the stations.
"It's a catch 22 in the sense that they need to be motivated to pay for that TIF because if not we can't do the development that's necessary around the transit stations," said Dela Cruz.
"It's a gimmick more than a real contribution to the problem," said Panos Prevedouros.
Prevedouros is the only mayoral candidate completely against rail. He says tax increment financing is just another burden on the backs of the public.
"When the state is broke it's one way to find some more money but the bottom line is it is another tax. By taxing yourself that's not the way to prosperity and in the long term it's counterproductive," said Prevedouros.
While it's a plan to get more votes it was a tough sell for even those that are in favor of rail.
"I live in the area and I think that's very unfair. What about the other people?" said Shrinah Henderson.
"If they tax people where the stations are I think that's a hardship. I don't think they should be taxed when they have a station right next to their yard," said David Kanagawa.
A lot would have to happen to make TIF a reality including changing the state constitution, tax codes and land use ordinances.
The other mayoral candidates did not care to comment on the issue.