Thursday, July 29, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Tax relief for apartment,
condo owners in works

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The race is on to provide property tax relief for apartment and condominium owners.

One bill moved out of the Budget Committee, another one was held up and two others introduced yesterday.

Most committee members agreed some kind of relief is necessary to help those who live and own apartments and condominiums, who have been paying a higher tax rate since the 1992 tax year.

Single-family home dwellers will pay $3.65 for every $1,000 of valuation this year while apartment and condo families will pay $4.49. How to go about providing that relief is the subject of much debate.

Bill 63, which moved out of committee, seeks to establish a property tax credit for apartment or condo dwellers who pay a private company for refuse collection.

Council members Andy Mirikitani, Jon Yoshimura and Duke Bainum, who introduced the bill, argue it's unfair for the apartment/condo class to have to pay for government-sponsored rubbish pickup and then not be able to get the service.

Mirikitani noted that private haulers recently were hit with an increase in tipping fees that likely are being passed on to those who use their services.

But the bill is far from becoming law. Councilman Steve Holmes said he wants to see how much the tax credits will cost the city and Councilman John DeSoto said he would support it in the future.

Bill 58, which seeks to merge the apartment-condominium class with the single-family dwellers, was deferred. Introduced by members John Henry Felix, Donna Mercado Kim and Mufi Hannemann, the city would have to charge $3.89 to all residential homeowners, regardless of if they're in the single-family or apartment/condo class.

That would result in an average $94 drop in annual tax bills from this for apartment and condo owners and a $62 increase for single-family homeowners.

The bill was endorsed by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Hawaii.

Several Council members questioned what impact the bill will have on the other classes.

But the bill was shelved primarily because of a technical glitch that would make the valuation process more difficult for city assessors.

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