City Council Proposes New Property Tax Formula

Kaimuki homeowner Mike Abe says he needs property tax relief from the city.
Kaimuki homeowner Mike Abe says he needs property tax relief from the city.

(KHNL)  Property taxes are taking a bite out of household budgets on Oahu.

"Let's see, I'll be paying $3300 dollars next year if nothing changes," said Kaimuki homeowner Mike Abe.

The Honolulu City Council Thursday gave final approval to a bill that will recommend changing property tax rates each year.

"The way we read it, they're going to come out with a tax rate that should reflect a lower rate than what we have now," said Abe, spokesman for Democrats for Property Tax Fairness.

The bill will base tax rates on the city's fixed costs. Those expenses include things like salaries, debt payments and employee health fund contributions.

"Whatever it takes to run the city, that is the amount we will collect in property tax, not one penny more," said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

The city expects its fixed expenses to jump $65 million this year.

"We will continue to look at our whole property tax system to assist our residents and make life better for everyone," Kobayashi said.

Homeowners are not guaranteed lower tax rates. The mayor or the council could still keep taxes where they are if the money is needed to cover the city's costs.

"We would have to come back and say we want to fund this, so we have to increase your property tax back by so much," Kobayashi said. "This way the council and the mayor are very accountable."

Homeowners said the bill does not completely address their concerns.

"If it works out, there's no need for a tax credit, it actually lowers the tax rate," Abe said. "But we'll face this issue again next year."