New Honolulu Budget Continues Spending Trend

Councilmember Charles Djou
Councilmember Charles Djou
Councilmember Todd Apo
Councilmember Todd Apo

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Honolulu City Council passed its operating budget for the fiscal year of '07 on Wednesday, but not without controversy. The big question is, will there be meaningful tax relief for the people on this island? The answer is, not in the near future.

Hawaii: one of the most expensive places to live in the United States.

"The price of living here in paradise is going up every day, every year, every month," said Ted Kanemori, a Kaneohe resident who attended the city council meeting.

As the cost of living continues to go up, the City and County of Honolulu has raked in record tax revenues for the past several years. The new budget offers modest tax relief for residential properties, but increases commercial property tax rate.

"It is as if we are putting some small pocket change in the left pockets of tax payers but immediately turning around and pulling that money out from their right pocket," said Councilmember Charles Djou, who represents the 4th Council District (Waikiki to Hawaii Kai).

Those in favor of the new budget said mandated necessary spending requires more money. But some residents say they're the ones getting squeezed out.

"I think the people of the City and County of Honolulu are going to continue to hurt until next year," said Kanemori.

They hope the government learns to do more with less money.

"We just can't afford it," said Kanemori. "They have to roll back the cost of running city government."

But Oahu residents will have to wait until the next fiscal year.

Honolulu's current operating budget is $1.6 billion, about 10 percent higher than last year. It's up 21 percent in the past two years.