Wednesday, December 19, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Yoshimura defends
rise in property

Residents have a month to
appeal disputed assessments

By Lisa Asato

City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said yesterday it would be overkill to decrease the property tax rate to deal with a relatively few number of large increases in property assessments.

"You can't solve that problem by cutting across the board; it's like killing a flea with a sledgehammer," Yoshimura said at a news conference.

He said most property owners are seeing assessment increases of between 1 percent and 5 percent, calling large increases "more the exception than the norm."

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said 260,000 assessment notices were sent to property owners last Friday.

Yoshimura attributed the assessment increases to the island's rising real estate values, which, in the 12-month period ending November 2000, hit its best level in 10 years.

During that time, home sales rose almost 11 percent and median home prices rose 5.3 percent.

The new assessments, he said, may mean several million dollars more in property tax revenues -- the main source of revenues for the city. But, he said, the increase probably would not offset an expected drop in the city's share of the state transit accommodations tax, or hotel-room tax. In October, city Budget Director Caroll Takahashi said those revenues may be down as much as $7 million from a projected $30 million or so.

"We're not looking at more money to spend; in fact we're probably looking at less money to spend next year," Yoshimura said.

Yoshimura said he did not believe the increases were an effort by the city to raise more money.

Anyone who wants to dispute their assessment can file a $25 appeal with the Board of Review or the Tax Appeal Court by the Jan. 15 deadline. Forms are available at satellite city halls, the Real Property Assessment office at 842 Bethel St., and online at

City & County of Honolulu

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