Wednesday, December 29, 1999

New Year’s fee
increases to affect
golf, trash, vehicles

Higher fees are expected to
bring the city an additional
$1.5 million in golf revenues

Several state laws to change Jan. 1

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Oahu residents will pay more to play at municipal golf courses, Mauians will see higher bills for garbage service, and all motorists will pay more to register their vehicles as new laws go into effect Jan. 1.

On Oahu the city is raising fees $2 on golf-related services. The cost for 18 holes of golf on weekdays will increase to $12 from $10 at five of the city's six courses. Weekend rates will go to $16 from $14.

Rates at Kahuku Golf Course, traditionally lower, will be raised to $8 from $6 on weekdays and to $10 from $8 on weekends.

Local residents must show their golf identification cards to get the rates. If they don't, they must show a drivers license or other local photo identification and will have to pay an additional $4.

For nonresidents, rates will increase at all courses to $42 from $40, regardless of the day of the week.

All other golf services -- including senior, junior and monthly rates and golf cart rentals -- also will rise $2.

Moanalua resident Harry Choi, who plays at the Ted Makalena Golf Course two to three times a week, said the increases appear small at first but actually have a steeper impact. Most people use golf carts, so the new schedule will mean golfers without a monthly pass will be paying $4 more -- $2 for green fees and $2 for a cart -- each time they play, he said.

"Golfing should be encouraged, not discouraged by jacking up the green fees," said Choi.

Council leaders, who earlier this year heard a proposal by Mayor Jeremy Harris to raise green fees 50 percent, said the new price plan is a fair compromise.

Golfer Lionel Aono of Hawaii Kai, who said he does not oppose increases in golf fees as long as they are fair, has questioned the city's numbers.

City officials have said it costs $17 million annually to run the golf courses -- $6 million for operations, and the rest to debt service to pay off old bonds. The city now receives about $10 million in golf fees. The higher fees are expected to bring an additional $1.5 million.

On Maui, residents and businesses will be paying more to get rid of garbage. The residential fee rose to $6 from $5 a month on July 1. But beginning Jan. 1, Maui residents will have to pay more if they dump a lot of trash -- $8 if they choose to dispose of three to six containers.

Maui County, on July 1, began charging $6 to dump a truckload of trash. There previously was no fee. Proponents of the new and increased fees say they encourage recycling since those taking separated trash to the landfills aren't being charged $6. But skeptics believe the policies contribute to more illegal dumping.

Beginning Jan. 1, it will cost state motorists $1 more to register their vehicles, as the Legislature approved doubling the highway beautification fee assessed on motor vehicles to $2.

The money will be used for county beautification projects and defraying the cost of disposing of abandoned vehicles.

Several state laws
to change Jan. 1

Among state laws taking effect Jan. 1, 2000:

Bullet A Hawaii business that has been contracted to perform services out of state is exempted from the 4 percent general excise tax. A 4 percent excise tax is imposed on out-of-state businesses performing a service in Hawaii.

Bullet De-pyramiding of the general excise tax on services begins. The first phase of the seven-year plan drops the excise tax on intermediate services to 3.5 percent from 4 percent. The tax drops 0.5 percent each year until Jan. 1, 2006. Gov. Cayetano said the loss in revenue would cost the state $150 million.

Bullet The University of Hawaii and the Department of Education are authorized to create custodial accounts for the deposit of annuity payments of their employees.

Bullet Policies provided by mutual benefit societies and health maintenance organizations will be required to provide current and prospective members written disclosure of coverages and benefits, exclusions and restrictions to ensure that everyone understands their health care options.

Bullet The eligibility qualifications for temporary disability benefits will be based on the 52 weeks immediately before the first day of disability instead of four calendar quarters.

Bullet A college savings program will be created for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 1999. The program sets up college accounts to enable residents to benefit from tax incentives for qualified state tuition programs under the Internal Revenue tax codes. The program is designed to also attract out-of-state students to public and private colleges in Hawaii.

-- By Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin

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