Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris is pushing one of the highest-ever tax increase in the history of Honolulu as well as increases to the vast majority of city fees to fund the proposed 5.5 percent increase in his operating budget.
Tonight, beginning at 4 p.m., 9 elected members of the Honolulu City Council will debate whether to grant Harris his $1.2 billion budget as it stands, including the tax and fee increases Harris is advocating.
Some of the council members have been vocal in their opposition to the mayor’s plan, including Rod Tam, Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi and Zoning Chair Charles Djou, who in several forums this year opposed tax increases.
Djou, who remains adamant in his opposition to any tax increases, says the economy in Hawaii, because of the impact of America’s war on terrorism, the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and the SARS virus on the visitor industry, is too vulnerable to withstand more negative pressure.
Rather than increasing taxes and fees, Djou says the mayor should cut his more than $1 billion budget by 2 percent.
Other critics in the Council say the mayor should cut his non-essential promotions and projects, such as Sunset on the Beach and Brunch on the Beach, as well as the creation of numerous new park facilities, to avoid increases yet meet the demands for the city’s essential services.
The mayor claims Djou’s proposal would be disastrous and shut down the city’s vital services, something Djou says is absolutely untrue.
Some of the fee and tax increases proposed in Bills 10 through 22 are listed below:
*Bill 10 City Council’s budget
*Bill 11 Executive branch’s budget
*Bill 12 Capital Improvement budget
*Bill 13 Bonds issuance (finances capital budget)
Bills 14 through 22 include specific fee increases:
*Bill 14 raids the solid waste fund of $18 million (do not confuse this with the raid on the city sewer fund over the last two years of $100 million — this is a different fund);
*Bill 15 increases the entrance fee to Hanauma Bay from $3 to $5, a 66 percent increase, and takes away concession funds to use for another purpose;
*Bill 16 increases the bus fare passes by $3 per month;
*Bill 17 increases the tipping fees to landfills and imposes a fee on residents for recycling;
*Bill 18 increases the sewer hook up fee substantially from $1,146 to $4,641. This fee will effect residents with cesspools and developers.
*Bill 19 raises the amount of virtually every fee imposed by the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting. Developers estimate these fee increases, along with the sewer hook up fee increase, will raise the cost of new homes between $5,000 and $10,000.
*Bill 20 will impose a $5 fee on car registration costs to go toward the city’s clean up of abandoned vehicles.
*Bill 21 will raise the cost to residents (typically lower income residents use this service) neutering their dog or cat at the Humane Society. The cost will go up from $29 for a female dog or cat and $18 for a male dog or cat to $75 for a female dog, $50 for a male dog or female cat and $40 for a male cat.
*Bill 22 imposes a $2 fee on people who make transactions at the 11 Satellite City Halls around the island of Oahu.
Members of the public and the mayor’s administration will be at City Hall to testify at the hearing, which also will be broadcast on Olelo Community Television (Channel 54 on Oceanic).