Monday, January 28, 2002

City & County of Honolulu

Harris says no plan
to hike property tax

He outlines measures to help
the economy and the environment

State of the City Address

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Mayor Jeremy Harris will not propose a hike in real property tax rates this year, he said this morning in his eighth State of the City address.

Harris also said he will ask the City Council to continue lowering the apartment and condominium tax rate, as part of a three-year plan to bring them even with the rate for single-family detached homes. He said he will also extend a seven-year real property tax holiday on all new construction to help bolster the economy, according to a draft of the speech.

The rest of the speech focused on Harris' plan to improve the environment, help neighborhoods, put together a mass transit plan and create a more diversified economy.

The draft of the speech made no mention and gave no hints about Harris' political plans. The mayor announced last year that he would be resigning to run for the Democratic nomination for governor, thus cutting short the four-year term he won in 2000.

But speculation has been rampant in recent weeks that he is contemplating staying on as mayor in the face of an investigation by the state Campaign Spending Commission into contributions that were made to his election committee.

In response to the speculation, Harris has said he still intends to run for governor.

The commission recently turned over its documents to city prosecutors.

A press release this morning announcing the address informed media that Harris would take questions after the speech, but not on campaign spending issues.

The text of the speech outlined a "blueprint for our island's future" that calls for:

>> Preserving open space by acquiring undeveloped properties and locking 87,000 acres of Oahu land into agricultural use.

>> Protecting the environment through several initiatives at the city's H-POWER facility, including increasing the waste-to-energy facility's capacity by 50 percent, building a municipal solid waste separation facility on the site and creating a new recycling technology park.

>> Restoring neighborhoods through projects such as turning the old Aiea Sugar Mill into a town center.

>> Continuing work on the $1 billion Bus Rapid Transit project that calls for circular neighborhood bus routes that feed into limited-stop vehicles into town, and new vehicles running on dedicated lanes in urban Honolulu.

>> Creating a sustainable economy by providing more cultural programs in Waikiki and elsewhere, as well as continuing to promote sports tourism and knowledge-based industries.

City & County of Honolulu

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