Budget bill has mayor thinking veto


POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009

Although he stopped short of saying he would veto it, Mayor Mufi Hannemann had serious concerns about the budget bill approved by the City Council yesterday that includes an increase in real property taxes but no tax credit for homeowners.





        Here are some of the taxes and fees the City Council approved. Current rates are listed in parentheses.

» Property Taxes: $3.42 per $1,000 of property values, no homeowner tax credit ($3.29 with $100 tax credit)


» Motor vehicle weight tax: 4 cents per pound as of Jan. 1 (3 cents per pound)


» TheBus: $2.25 adult cash fare; $50 monthly pass; $25 youth monthly pass; $25 four-day visitor pass ($2 adult cash fare; $40 monthly pass; $20 youth monthly pass; $20 four-day visitor pass)


» Honolulu Zoo: $6 adult resident entry fee; $12 adult non-resident; $3 child ($4 adult resident; $8 adult non-resident; $1 child)


» Public golf: $19 adult daily greens fee; $12 youth daily greens fee; $19 golf cart rental; $40 monthly senior greens fee. ($16 adult daily greens fee; $9 youth daily greens fee; $16 golf cart rental; $32 monthly senior greens fee)




Council members approved raising the property tax rate 13 cents to $3.42 per $1,000 of property value, an increase lower than the $3.59 rate recommended by Hannemann and approved by the Council Budget Committee last month.

But a vote on the $3.59 rate, tied to a $150 one-time tax credit aimed at off-setting the bulk of the increase to taxpayers, fell a vote short of the five needed for passage.

The Council then unanimously approved a proposal by member J. Ikaika Anderson for the $3.42 rate, but with no tax credit.

Hannemann called the move shortsighted, saying it will have a detrimental impact on the most vulnerable taxpayers, low-income homeowners and the elderly.

The mayor has 10 working days to decide whether to approve the budget, and says he will use the time to gauge community opinion.

“;I need to seriously reflect on the consequences of today,”; Hannemann said. “;I really want the public to know what the impact is because these are major impacts to their accounts and finances.”;

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Hannemann specifically blamed Anderson and Chairman Todd Apo for pushing through the plan.

According to the mayor's estimates, a homeowner at the median home price of $600,000 would pay an additional $106.04 in property taxes under the bill passed yesterday, versus an extra $41.38 under the Budget Committee's proposal he supported.

Apo said it was the mayor who failed to win enough votes to support his proposal.

“;He just didn't have five people who believed that was the right rate,”; said Apo, who voted for the $3.59 plan. “;It wasn't from a lack of effort to try to pass what came out of committee, which is obviously what the mayor wanted.

“;I know he was working hard to try to get five people to support that, but there were only four of us that would support that at that point.”;

The property tax rate is the key facet of the budget bill the Council passed yesterday, just hours after learning their colleague Duke Bainum had died the night before from an aneurysm.

Apo said there had been some thought about postponing or recessing the meeting, but the Council was unable to do so because it faced various deadlines for passing the operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The city is facing an estimated $50 million shortfall in the next fiscal year that begins July 1 and the increase in property taxes was among several approved by the Council.

Some fees for TheBus, admission to the Honolulu Zoo, greens fees at public golf courses and vehicle weight taxes are among the other increases that could hit Honolulu residents.

Reacting to what they called an overwhelming outcry from the public, Council members increased parking rates at the zoo and Kapiolani Park to just a fraction of what the mayor had proposed.

The 25-cent an hour rate that hasn't changed since 1980 is set to climb to 50 cents an hour along Kalakaua Avenue and the park, and $1 an hour at the zoo, with some of that money going toward zoo improvements.

Hannemann had proposed raising rates at both locations to $1.50 an hour.

“;No other measure has generated as much discussion debate and emotion,”; said Budget Chairman Nestor Garcia.