Wednesday, June 30, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Bill revisits
residential tax rates

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Apartment and condominium owners would once again pay the same tax rate as single-family homeowners under a bill introduced by three City Council members.

The bill is designed to help Oahu's apartment-condominium owners who have protested that their rates -- and therefore their bills -- have gone up more quickly than those of single-family homeowners.

The City Council earlier this month raised rates for the single-family and apartment and nearly all other classes for the tax year that begins tomorrow.

Single-family homeowners will pay $3.65 for every $1,000 of assessed value while apartment owners will pay $4.49.

Any changes as proposed by the bill would not go into effect until the next fiscal year.

The measure was introduced by Council minority members John Henry Felix, Mufi Hannemann and Donna Mercado Kim.

Majority members say the bill would have too drastic an effect on single-family homeowners if not part of a package with other tax relief bills.

The three said the idea is to get the city to spend less while providing an equitable system to all households.

"If ... we're going to be deriving most of our revenues from property taxes, we want it to be fair," Hannemann said. "We want apartment and condo owners to pay the same rate as single-family homeowners."

Kim called it a "no-brainer" that all homeowners pay the same rate whether they live in apartments, condominiums or single-family homes.

But majority Councilman Duke Bainum said it was Hannemann, former Council chairman, and Felix, former budget chairman, who presided over the increase two years ago.

Bainum said majority members aren't opposed to a single rate for both classes. However, he said, to make the rates equal for the apartment-condo and collect the same income as this year would mean an average 6.5 percent increase in taxes on the island's 139,000 single-family residential properties, about $62 per parcel.

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