Djou Wants to Put Brakes On Rail Plans

Councilmember Charles Djou
Councilmember Charles Djou

(KHNL) - A Honolulu City Councilmember will introduce a bill Monday to put the brakes on Oahu's rail plans. He's concerned about the largest tax hike in Hawaii history that is supposed to pay for it.

When Councilmember Charles Djou does the math he says even the general excise tax hike won't cover the cost of the rail system. He wants more answers before that January tax increase goes into effect.

This week the Honolulu City Council's Transportation Committee voted for the rail system.

But Councilmember Djou wonders if the tax increase will cover it, "Its the magnitude of it. This rail project is the largest public works project ever. And it's financed by the largest tax hike in this state and we are rushing to judgement."

The half percent increase in the general excise tax that will fund part of the rail system goes into effect in January. But Councilmember Djou does the math, "The general excise tax will garner 150 million a year for 16 years. That amounts to 2.4 billion dollars. The truncated system is 4.2 billion and the full build out of the 28 mile system is 6.1 billion so the numbers are not adding up.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the majority of Councilmembers support the rail system saying it's the answer to Oahu's traffic problems. They put the cost of the 20 mile system at 3.6 billion. They estimate tax revenue and federal funds will cover it.

But if it doesn't Councilmember Djou fears taxpayers will have to make up the difference.

Mayor Hannemann says the rail system will improve the quality of life for Oahu commuters.