Mayors want hotel tax untouched - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mayors want hotel tax untouched

Ralph Lombardo Ralph Lombardo
Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle
Rep. Sharon Har Rep. Sharon Har

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New York native Ralph Lombardo's back for another surfing vacation - his annual getaway from snow and stress.

"This year I'm staying three weeks. Last year I stayed a month," he said.

He'll pay a hefty hotel tab plus a nine percent hotel room tax. All visitors in Hawaii's hotels do. The transient accommodations tax is the counties' second-highest source of revenue.

Once again, the state's four mayors are telling lawmakers, hand's off.

"Every year the transient accommodations tax becomes an issue," Big Island mayor Billy Kenoi said.

This year they have an assurance from Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

"We're grateful for the governor's pledge that the counties share of the TAT will remain intact," Kauai mayor Bernard Carvalho said.

"I'm confident with my discussions that I don't think it's in immediate danger. But you can never be certain what's going to happen during the legislative session. So it's something we're going to be defensive of," Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle said.

Pledges and promises aside, there's a huge hole to fill.

"The fact of the matter is this: the state is looking at a $700 million revenue shortfall for the upcoming two years. And so, yes, everything is always on the table," Rep. Sharon Har said.

Last year lawmakers rejected Gov. Linda Lingle's bid to divert TAT money.

It's always tempting because it's a large sum.

"It's $18 million to the county of Hawaii, another $18 million to Maui. I believe it's about $50 million to Kauai, another $46 million to the city and county of Honolulu. So you're talking about a collective $100 million," Kenoi said.

The mayors said they are cautiously optimistic the tax will remain untouched and go toward county bills.

Lombardo said he understands their desire.

"The infrastructure needs to support where they are in terms of making the roads that much nicer, better, and more accessible," he said.

He'll kick in his share of the tax when he pays his hotel bill, packs his board and heads home.


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