City council passes on raising property taxes to fund rail — for now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city's Plan B to fund the rail system is now on hold.

The Honolulu City Council deferred action on a measure to use real property taxes to fund the construction of the rail project, whose costs have nearly doubled to $10 billion.

"We do not need a raise in property taxes for rail," said University of Hawaii Civil Engineering Professor Amarjit Singh.

The council deferred the measure to see what state lawmakers will do next.

The Legislature failed to pass a funding measure this session, but will likely tackle the issue again in a special session.

"We refuse to give Mayor Caldwell any more money for the steel-wheels, steel rail system," Elaine Kam added.

If the Legislature doesn't fund the shortfall, the city estimates that it would have to increase property taxes by 12 to 15 percent.

"It will definitely be a hardship," City Councilmember Ernie Martin said. "I represent a district that has a lot of individuals who are retired and on fixed income can barely pay their real property taxes now."

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