City & County of Honolulu is Paying Out Millions in Corporate Welfare While Raising Your Taxes


BY HANNI HARTMANN – The City & County of Honolulu is paying out millions in corporate welfare while raising your taxes.

The good news is that a bill (Bill 47) is up for a vote on Wednesday, April 20th, to end this waste.

For the past 10 years, the City has paid Schnitzer Steel, Hawaii’s largest metal recycler, a discount of over $19 million off their tipping fees for dumping automobile “fluff” (ASR), the left-overs after the recycling process, into Oahu’s landfill. This was started years ago when the City wanted to encourage metal recyclers. Ten years and $23 million in discounts later, metal recycling is very profitable. Schnitzer, for example, is estimated to make as $10 million a year in operating income in the islands. This is not a company that should be taking and extra $2 million a year from Hawaii’s taxpayers.

They have tried everything to confuse this issue and keep the pure profit provided by the taxpayer. Schnitzer has flooding the City Council with lawyers, lobbyists, and PR people trying to salvage their “deal.” But, all their efforts took a big hit when Jim Banigan testified.

Banigan, now retired, was the General Manager of Schnitzer’s Hawaii operations for 20 years, and basically said they are blowing smoke. He stated in an interview with Civil Beat that they didn’t need the discount and were simply taking the money because they could. He also said their “threat” to end community recycling programs, like Aloha Aina, was simply another smokescreen to keep the money. Schnitzer still maintains that it “needs” your money to maintain its profitability, but refuses to show any local financials to support that claim! Banigan says they don’t need it and never did.

Schnitzer now controls about 85% of Hawaii’s scrap metal market, and its smaller competitors claim they are using their taxpayer-funded profits to outbid and suppress competition. This is yet another example of how well meaning government bureaucrats can screw things up when they attempt to impose their ideas on the private sector.

Your business doesn’t get free tax money to pad its bottom line, and neither should Schnitzer Steel et. al.


·      Pass Bill 47 un-amended and end this waste of tax dollars.

·      Lacking any disclosure of actual need, now or in the past, the subsidy should end in its entirety now, or even retroactively.

·      There is no logical “middle” ground.

·      Any proposal of a “reduction” or “phasing out” of city-funded subsidies to profitable private sector companies would be an insult to Honolulu’s taxpayers LIKE YOU who are being asked to bear the brunt of budget sacrifices so the city could continue giving handouts to wealthy companies.

Please send a note of your support of Bill 47 for to Councilmember Stanley Chang’s aide, Ryan Akamine, at:


Submit emailed testimony in favor of Bill 47 here:

The vote is Wednesday.

It will take your voice to succeed.