The Tipping Point – Unchecked, Taxes Will Always Go Up

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Since 2003, the City and County of Honolulu has been busy increasing taxes and fees at an amazing rate. Just look at the table reprinted here: “Honolulu Tax Increases Approved Since 2003 file”

Not one tax has gone down during this same period. Instead, elected officials have been reminding taxpayers about the “backlog” of potholes and other things that must be funded. Could it be that these same politicians use the word “backlog” as a more polite way of saying “there is no end to City tax increases?”


What will be the tipping point for the voters? Is the tipping point the table above that lists 50 specific tax and fee increases that have already hit pocketbooks or are scheduled to hit pocketbooks in the next four years? Will the tipping point come when property tax relief bills only shift increasing property taxes from one group to another e.g., from older to younger home owners? Will the tipping point be the City Council election campaigns for the September and November elections? Will the tipping point come sometime next year when rents and food and everything else increases with the general excise surcharge increase of 12.5 percent taking effect Jan. 1, 2007?

The table above lists tax and fee increases that were passed through the normal City Council process that is set out by the City Charter. While the current Charter authorizes a voter initiative process to recall the individual Council Member; that same Charter expressly prohibits those same voters from using the initiative process to offer amendments or change any “levy of taxes” passed by the Council.

LET HONOLULU VOTE believes that voter initiative on tax matters is the best way to ensure that elected officials will think twice before passing tax and fee increases. LET HONOLULU VOTE also believes that if voters succeed in bringing a tax matter before the public that a public vote simply offers additional choice for voters to consider. More choice is always better than the alternative of limiting choice.

The big question now is: How many taxes and fees does it take to convince the voters that it is time to change the City Charter to permit initiative on tax issues? Visit and decide if it now is the time for change.

”’Paul E. Smith is Co-Chair of LET HONOLULU VOTE. See:”’ ”’Reach him via email at:”’

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