Counties push to increase share of transient accommodations tax - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Counties push to increase share of transient accommodations tax revenue

Ikaika Anderson (Image: Hawaii News Now) Ikaika Anderson (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Mel Rapozo (Image: Hawaii News Now) Mel Rapozo (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Graphic Source: Hawaii News Now Graphic Source: Hawaii News Now
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Visitor numbers have been increasing in recent years, and a lot more tourists are filling hotel rooms statewide. And that has meant rising revenues from the Transient Accommodations Tax.

Any time someone books a hotel or other accommodation, there's a 9.2 percent transient accommodations tax, or TAT. 

"Really what the transient accommodations tax is, is a reimbursement to all four counties for the monies that we expend in accommodating our visitors," said Honolulu County Councilman Ikaika Anderson.

"On Kauai, for example, we deal with a lot of rescues from the Na Pali coast, from the beaches -- the state beaches -- that we maintain," said Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo.

In 2010, the counties' share of TAT revenue was capped at $93 million because of the poor economy during the Great Recession. That was increased to $103 million in 2013.

"What actually happened with the split was that the counties stayed at 103 million, and the state moved from 8.3 million to over 205 million," said Maui County Council Chair Mike White. 

In 2010, the TAT brought in $244 million; the counties received $93 million of that. In 2015, TAT revenues totaled $435 million. The counties share was capped at $103 million.

A measure before the state House Finance Committee would make the $103 million cap permanent. If the bill doesn't pass, the cap falls again to $93 million.

Council members from around the state said the possibility of a smaller share of the TAT revenues comes as parts of the economy -- from sugar to hotels -- take a hit.

"We're losing HC&S, many people losing jobs," said Maui County Councilwoman Gladys Baisa, referring to the closure of Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company. "And yesterday we found out that a hotel (the Makena Beach and Golf Resort) is closing and that's another 300 plus jobs. So we are going to be suffering."

"At this point we feel with the rising revenues of TAT, that in fact we should be getting more than what the state is proposing," said Rapozo.

The Finance Committee will make a decision on the measure Tuesday.

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