Petition Protests Property Taxes

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

(KHNL) - A handful of people, signs and petitions. It may not be much, but one group of disgruntled taxpayers said every political movement has to start somewhere.

They're all homeowners who've seen their property taxes jump in recent years.

"The last three years, 26 percent up, 27 percent up. This last year, 34 percent up," said Paul Smith, organizer for Let Honolulu Vote.

The group is launching a petition campaign in an effort to change the City Charter. It wants to let the public vote on any tax increases proposed by the city government.

"Right now we're prohibited by the city charter from voting on any taxes," Smith said.

Rising property valuations mean higher property taxes. Some council members said they understand the public's frustration.

"I think the city government has been raising too many taxes by too much for too long," said Councilman Charles Djou. "It's about time people rose up to say enough is enough."

Organizers said they need to collect at least 45,000 signatures. That would allow them to place a charter amendment question on the 2008 ballot.

"This is obviously very difficult," Djou said. "It's not easy to get a question on the ballot via initiative so it's a very very high mountain to climb."

The City Council currently adjusts property tax rates but some say that power should lie with the voters.

"We don't trust that process," Smith said. "We want the voters to have a chance to vote on taxes."