Mayor seeks new fees, taxes to cover rising costs - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mayor seeks new fees, taxes to cover rising costs

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Chart showing where the city spends your tax dollars, categorized. (Image: City & County of Honolulu) Chart showing where the city spends your tax dollars, categorized. (Image: City & County of Honolulu)
Chart showing where the city's money is generated. (Image: City & County of Honolulu) Chart showing where the city's money is generated. (Image: City & County of Honolulu)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It may soon get even more expensive to live in Honolulu.  

In a news conference Thursday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell presented his proposed $2.45 billion budget, an $118 million increase from last year.

How to pay for the increase?

More taxes and fees.

"I can promise you, as mayor, I would not be proposing these revenue enhancements if we had fat in our budget," Caldwell told reporters.

To cover the cost of city services, Caldwell wants to start charging residents more:

  • Under the proposal, residents would be charged $10 a month for trash pick-up. The mayor says the fee would be added onto homeowners' water and sewer bills. Homes that have additional bins -- more than the typical gray, blue and green ones -- would have to pay an additional $2.50 per bin.
  • Meanwhile, the city also wants to raise bus fares by 25 cents per year for the next four years, topping out at $3.50. Seniors would pay $5 more for a yearly buss pass under the new budget.
  • Finally, the owners of hotels and resort properties, along with investors who own homes worth more than a million dollars, would see an increase on their property tax. The mayor also wants to charge a permit fee for developers working on projects that require city inspectors, to certify they are meeting federal regulations during construction.

Without the increases, Caldwell says, he won't be able to balance the budget, and cuts will have to be made in other areas.  

There were mixed opinions on the proposed fee and tax increases.

"Just more money out of my pocket when it's obviously working already. Things seems to be functioning OK," said taxpayer Gary Wallen. "So why tax us more?"

"If it's for a cause to make things better, then that's what you have to look at," countered taxpayer Anthony McCullough.

Caldwell defended his plan, saying a lot of thought was put into exactly where taxes would be raised.

"We're trying to target selectively, to not hurt families or put the burden on families," said Caldwell.

But City Councilman Trevor Ozawa isn't sure people should be charged for basic city services.

"That's what the next three months are for, to figure out what is going to pass and what's not, and my colleagues at the City Council as well will all have to deal with this," said Ozawa. "We all have to determine what the community is going to be okay with and what they're not." 

The mayor made it very clear the reason the city is looking for more money is because of rail. By showing how hard it is to balance the city budget, Caldwell says he hopes state lawmakers will be willing to support a permanent rail tax surcharge.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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