Saturday, May 29, 1999

Maui hikes taxes;
residents face increase
of $128, more

By Gary T. Kubota


WAILUKU -- A typical Maui homeowner will be paying $128 more in county taxes annually and receiving fewer services under a $211.5 million budget approved by Council members yesterday.

The increases for a $220,500 single-family home include an average increase of about $14 in property taxes, $36 in rubbish pickup, and $78 in sewer fees.

The price goes up if the homeowner uses county facilities.

A new fee of $6 will be charged to residents emptying a load at the county landfill by Puunene, and the fee for holding a party at a county hall for 250 people jumped from $30 to $396.

Golfers at the municipal course at Waiehu will be paying $1 more in daily green fees -- $8 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

A certificate of motor vehicle registration increases from $2 to $10.

With little or no job growth, the county is facing a flat economy with reduced contributions from the state and less property tax revenues.

To maintain most services, Council members are raising taxes.

Many residents don't like the tax increases, especially the property tax rate increase of 6 percent from $3.50 to $3.71 per $1,000 of valuation.

Maui Contractors Association official Jack Freitas said the rate increase will hurt the construction industry by raising the cost of home loans.

"You're taking money out of the market," Freitas said.

Residents say that while the average assessment may have decreased by $4,000, property values in some areas such as west Maui have increased, resulting in more than a 6 percent increase.

The proposal is less than Mayor James Apana's request for a $220.2 million budget including a 38.6 percent increase in property tax rates.

Council Chairman Patrick Kawano said the Council tried to keep the tax increases as low as possible.

"I don't like tax increases, but we got to do it. Hopefully next year we'll be in better shape," Kawano said.

Apana said the Council did not give much direction as to what programs and services to cut, and he'll be meeting with his department heads to decide.

"What these areas are, we don't know at this time," Apana said.

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