Kailua group trying to get property tax rate lowered
A group of Kailua residents has started a petition drive to convince the City Council to lower the property tax rates to offset rising property values.
Bob Grantham Jr., one of the organizers, said lowering the tax rate would give residents tax relief before the first bills are due in August and would be in place while the City Council and Mayor Mufi Hannemann work out a long-term fix to the assessment system.
"We want something done now," said Grantham, one of the members of group calling itself PTRNOW, or Property Tax Relief Now.
Grantham said the rising assessments will do three things: make a lot of people angry; force some senior citizens on fixed incomes out of their homes; and turn renters who cannot afford rising rents into homeless people.
Grantham's district is represented by City Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, who has also called on Hannemann to reduce the rates.
The mayor responded that if Marshall wants to reduce the rate, she needs to come up with ways to offset the loss in revenue with cuts in the budget. Marshall responded that the administration is best at making budget cut recommendations.
Other Council members have come out with tax proposals to offset higher property valuations, but some have also opposed reducing the rate because they say it will not give enough help to owner-occupants and will help the very group they say is driving up property values: speculators.
Grantham does not agree.
He said reducing the tax rate -- currently $3.75 per $1,000 in valuation for residential properties -- is "the only equitable way to do it on the first move. Then they (the City Council) should take the time to come up with a better method and maybe cut out the investors."
Grantham said the group is trying to get at least 5,000 signatures by Jan. 23 and will be circulating the petition islandwide.
For a petition, call Grantham at 261-8716 or John Elliott at 261-2597, or e-mail them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.