Both Honolulu mayoral candidates say they won’t raise property taxes for rail

Honolulu mayoral candidates on promises and plans for rail project

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Whoever wins the race for Honolulu mayor will inherit the beleaguered rail project ― now estimated by HART to cost $10 billion.

Both candidates are supporters of the rail project and its transit-oriented development possibilities.

And with the rail’s cost overruns, delays and infighting over infrastructure, both Keith Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi also made the same promise about finishing the last leg of the rail project.

“I will not raise property taxes to pay for rail," Blangiardi said. “Property tax is revenue. It’s revenue for the city. We are going to try to figure out where our priorities are, but I will not take property tax money for the construction of rail at the expense of core city services.”

Amemiya said something very similar.

“I’m against using real property taxes for rail,” he said. “I’m very bullish on making sure we do it, but of course we try to be mindful of the cost overruns and delay."

Amemiya added that with two years before construction begins on the last leg, federal stimulus funding or design changes could save money.

“We don’t have to pause at this point,” he said.

Blangiardi wants to save money with belt tightening without job cuts and agrees federal monies must come through. “The feds cannot let us fail,” he said.

Both candidates also share frustration with the project.

“I tried to meet with (HART CEO) Andy Robbins, tried to ask a lot of questions and all I heard was when you get elected mayor, we’ll tell you,” said Blangiardi.

“I’ve been a proponent from the beginning that rail needs to be completed to Ala Moana. I’m as upset and frustrated as everyone with the state of the rail project up to this point,” said Amemiya.

When asked if the city should take over the project from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation sooner, Amemiya says it’s an option worth considering.

Blangiardi says he’ll wait and see.

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