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While City Council continues to advance bill to raise hotel room tax, many unknowns still loom

Counties would be able to impose its own additional hotel tax of up to 3%, bumping the total...
Counties would be able to impose its own additional hotel tax of up to 3%, bumping the total hotel room tax to more than 13% per night.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 9:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While a plan to raise the hotel room tax on Oahu continues to advance at the City Council, some members are pushing back amid unknowns as to how the funds will be used.

The council said part of the revenue made from increasing taxes will go toward the embattled rail project. But how much tax to collect or how much will go to the rail has not yet been determined.

Because of this uncertainty, three councilmembers voted against Bill 40 on Thursday.

The measure is intended to raise the Transient Accommodations Tax up to 3% to cover some of the city’s operating expenses, which also include maintaining its parks and beaches.

So far, the city and HART still don’t know what they need, meaning the numbers are blank in the bill.

“I support the TAT, but until I can see numbers from HART and know how much will be allocated, I will not support this measure” said Ewa Beach Councilmember Augie Tulba.

“I am very disappointed that this rail project is again hamstringing our legislative process,” said Windward Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

The city and HART said they are waiting for experts to determine a more accurate estimate for how much the project needs.

The city’s managing director said he expects to have those numbers soon along with an estimate of the rail’s financial shortfall.

Meanwhile, other counties have already finalized their 3% surcharges.

The governor had approved the restructuring of the Transient Accommodations Tax back in April.

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