Kauai County

Kauai Council OKs
new budget

Mayor Kusaka is expected to
sign the $90 million measure

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> The Kauai County Council unanimously approved a 9.8 percent increase in county spending in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The $90 million county operating budget -- up from $82 million this fiscal year -- is the same amount requested by Mayor Maryanne Kusaka but increased the property tax cuts she proposed and added a new program to acquire additional access to beach and mountain recreation areas.

Kusaka is expected to sign the bill.

The increase in spending comes because of increased property tax revenues. In the current fiscal year, the county received an additional $677,000 in taxes due to a housing boom that has seen soaring prices matched by a sharp decline in homes available for rent or sale to middle-income residents.

Last year, the Council ignored Kusaka's plea to avoid cutting taxes and implemented a tax cut anyway. The vote was veto-proof and Kusaka signed the bill.

This year, Kusaka asked for a 15-cent across-the-board property tax decrease for every $1,000 of assessed valuation. The Council passed that rate decrease and then added another 15-cent drop for residential properties receiving a homestead exemption.

The Council estimated that the reduction would mean a loss of $1 million in revenue, but some homeowners with increased property valuations may still be paying more taxes.

The major new initiative in the capital improvements budget approved by the Council was the appropriation of $375,000 to acquire public easements to beach and mountain recreation areas.

Rather than designating new trails across private land, the project is designed to identify easements provided in the past by landowners. In some cases the county failed to record the easement deeds; in others the trails never were built.

Bill sponsors Gary Hooser and Ron Kouchi said they will ask the Council this month to approve a resolution creating a citizens advisory committee to recommend which access routes should be given priority.

And they plan to ask the Council to place a referendum on this fall's ballot asking the voters to approve a 0.5 percent increase in taxes to create a permanent fund for access acquisition. Maui County is expected to ask its voters for a 1 percent tax hike for the same purpose this year.

Kauai County

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin