City Council prepares to pile on more taxes


POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

July 1 is shaping up to be an expensive day.

It marks the beginning of the 2010 fiscal year and the start date for a slew of new taxes and fees at the state level.

The City Council appears poised to add on.

Council members meet today to take up the city's operating budget along with a host of fee increases and tax hike proposals, all aimed at making up a $50 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

Real property taxes have been a main target of Council members and Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

The Council's Budget Committee approved Hannemann's proposal of a 30-cent increase last month, placing it at $3.59 per $1,000 of property valuation.

But the rate, as well as a proposed tax credit to help offset the tax increase, will be debated today with amendments proposed by various members of the Council.

“;I believe the budget that we have presented to them is about as clear, as consistent and probably the most fiscally conservative budget that has ever gone to the City Council,”; Hannemann said last week in response to the proposed amendments. “;For the life of me, I can't understand why this has become so complicated and controversial for some Council members.”;

Hannemann also had proposed an increase in parking rates at Kapiolani Park and the Honolulu Zoo, to $1.50 an hour from 25 cents an hour.

Council members say the proposal has generated more outcry than any other among constituents, leading them to propose a lower rate increase, to 75 cents or $1 per hour.

“;If we can find something good to do, something good for the public, given the input we've gotten, this is probably the one,”; said Council Chairman Todd Apo.

Other hikes are expected for some bus rates, entrance fees at the zoo, public golf course fees and vehicle weight taxes.

Hannemann and Council members say they are budgeting for the 2010 fiscal year with an eye on 2011, when the budget shortfall could be three times the amount faced today.

“;We all know the economy is going south,”; Hannemann said. “;We're trying to take into account the huge fiscal problem that we're going to face next year.”;

Also on the table is the capital-improvements project budget, which includes $1 billion in bonds for the initial phase of the rail transit project.

Rail foes are expected to show up in force to protest, arguing that the $4 billion project might wind up costing more because the downturn in the economy has not produced as much tax revenue as originally predicted.




Taxes looming

        These are some of the taxes and fees that the City Council might raise to help make up a $50 million budget shortfall:

Real Property Tax

        » Current: $3.29 per $1,000 of property value with $100 tax credit

» Proposed: $3.59 per $1,000 of property value with $175 tax credit


Parking at the Zoo and Kapiolani Park

        » Current: 25 cents per hour

» Proposed: $1.50 per hour


Bus Fares

        » Adult cash fare: From $2 to $2.25 on July 1; $2.50, July 1, 2010

» Adult monthly pass: From $40 to $50 on July 1; $60, July 1, 2010


» Youth monthly pass: From $20 to $25 on July 1, 2010


» Adult four-day pass: from $20 to $25 on July 1


Honolulu Zoo Admission

        » Current: Children under 5, free; ages 6 to 12, $1; residents over age 13, $4; nonresidents over 13, $8

» Proposed: Children under 3, free; ages 4 to 12, $3; residents over age 13, $6; nonresidents over 13, $12