Police raises and tax hike
head to Council

Raises for Honolulu police officers will head for City Council approval, while a hike in the city vehicle weight tax to pay for the increases will move on for public comment.

City & County of Honolulu

Mayor Jeremy Harris is proposing the passenger vehicle weight tax rise to 2 cents a pound, a 0.75 cent increase.

His proposal also calls for the commercial vehicle weight tax to climb to 2.5 cents a pound from 2 cents.

Harris said the increase will generate $6.5 million in revenue for the current fiscal year and $13 million for next fiscal year. The city needs to pay for $5.7 million in raises for the current year and $12.7 million next year. The raises will cost $67 million over the life of the four-year contract.

The Council must approve the tax increase before Jan. 1 for it to take effect for the second half of the fiscal year.

The last time the city vehicle weight tax was increased was in 1990.

The majority of budget committee members said yesterday that they supported a raise for police but that there were few options available to fund it.

"This is another huge tax increase for our constituents," Councilwoman Barbara Marshall said. "However, with that said, I'd just like to put out the call for anybody with a better idea, because we know we want to fund the police contract."

Councilman Charles Djou, while supporting the pay raises, said he could not support raising taxes.

"Every time we have a fiscal bump, you can't continue to raise taxes," he said. "As long you continue to feed the leviathan, it'll keep on growing. I'm also voting against this because ... a 60 percent increase in the vehicle tax is too much."

While an arbitrator awarded police officers a 16 percent pay raise over four years, Human Resources Director Cheryl Okuma-Sepe said yesterday the total wage package is about a 22 percent increase because of fringe benefits and differentials.

The resolution supporting the pay raises goes before the full Council for final approval on Nov. 5.

The weight tax proposal goes for a public hearing and the second of three needed approvals on the same day.


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