City: Most owners
will get property
More 'revenue neutral' taxBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
plan information is released after
being blasted by critics
Most Oahu property owners will see lower tax bills this coming year, Mayor Jeremy Harris' administration has reiterated in response in public criticism.
Budget Director Malcolm Tom said:
134,854 tax bills will be lower than this year's bills by an average of $156, or 10 percent.
104,682 tax bills will be higher by an average of $152, or 8.1 percent.
Yesterday, officials gave the City Council's Budget Committee more specifics on the "revenue neutral" tax plan a week after being assailed by advocates of lower property taxes.
Protests by the Taxpayer Coalition, coupled with a three-quarter page newspaper advertisement by minority Council members opposed to the plan, triggered a barrage of calls from angry taxpayers to Honolulu Hale offices.
"There seems to be a lot of confusion over the last few days regarding property taxes," Managing Director Ben Lee said. "The city did not raise property taxes, what we did was adjust the property tax rate so that, generally, everyone pays either the same or less as they did (this year)."
Councilwoman Donna Mercado Kim, one of those opposed to the tax plan, said: "The tax rates went up and your assessments went down so your taxes should have gone down proportionately to the value of your property. When assessments go up, they don't reduce the rate. They stay the same and I pay more."
Jay Fidell, spokesman of the Taxpayer Coalition, said the city should have taken bigger strides to cut its budget.
"The point is we are in a shrinking economy -- you see the empty stores and bankruptcies in the paper," Fidell said. "Because of that, the economy of the state is shrinking. And if the economy is shrinking, then government should shrink. We should not have the same tax as last year."
Ousted Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann said Council members received hundreds of calls, e-mails and faxes in opposition. "We've been able to show this revenue-neutral argument is hocus pocus. We have not proven to the public that we have cut all of the fat out of the budget."
Lee boasted that the city is reducing its operating budget by 3.6 percent. Hawaii County is the only other municipality that will have a lower operating budget, at 2.5 percent less. The two other counties, and the state, increased their budgets, Lee said.
The City and County of Honolulu also has fewer employees per capita than its sister counties in the state, Lee said, at 10.2 employees for every 1,000 residents.
Here is what's happening in property-tax classificationsHere's a more detailed look at developments in the major property-tax classifications as described by Roy Amemiya yesterday:
Single-family residential: Of 141,029 tax bills, 41.6 percent will see an increase, 53.7 percent a decrease, and 4.6 percent no change. The average bill seeing an increase will pay $82 more, up 7.4 percent. The average bill seeing a decrease will pay $71 less, down 7.9 percent. The rate is going from $3.49 for every $1,000 of valuation to $3.65, a 4.6 percent increase.
Apartment-condominium: Of 90,268 tax bills, 41.5 percent will see an increase, 57 percent a decrease, and 1.5 percent no change. The average bill seeing an increase will pay $116 more, up 14.5 percent. The average bill seeing a decrease will pay $96 less, down 14.4 percent. The rate is going from $3.97 for every $1,000 of valuation to $4.49, a 13.1 percent increase.
Commercial: Of 5,683 tax bills, 38.8 percent will see an increase, 56.1 percent a decrease, and 5.1 percent no change. The average bill seeing an increase will pay $1,217 more, up 6.8 percent. The average bill seeing a decrease will pay $2,042 less, down 11.5 percent. The rate is going from $8.88 for every $1,000 of valuation to $9.25, a 4.2 percent increase.
Hotel-resort: Of 3,347 tax bills, 33.3 percent will see an increase, 66.7 percent a decrease and 0.1 percent no change. The average bill seeing an increase will pay $836 more, up 3.1 percent. The average bill seeing a decrease will pay $565 less, down 6.5 percent. The rate is going from $9.64 for every $1,000 of valuation to $9.96, a 3.3 percent increase.
Taxpayers interested in what their taxes will be are being told to call the Property Assessment Division office at 527-5502.