by Andrew Walden
Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters says, “balancing city’s $400 million budget deficit is the top priority.”
Due to the COVID economic crash, tax hikes may be on the Honolulu Council agenda, but, until this week, Councilmembers had been considering a property tax cap for one well-connected group of landowners.
Bill 31 CD1, pushed by ex-convict, former methamphetamines addict and Broken Trust figure Milton Holt, would have capped property taxes—but only for members of the Sand Island Business Association.
Even if massive new industrial development occurred on the covered parcels, taxes could increase no more than 5% per year. An earlier version capped tax increases at 3%. The excuse—Sand Island Business Association members allegedly receive fewer city services because their businesses are located on private roads within the industrial subdivision.
This is all very understandable. It is naturally hard to say no to an ex-tweeker who, at Bishop Estate, achieved the kind of things most Honolulu politicians can only dream of.
Also pushing the bill was Mitsunaga Construction, located on Sand Island and led by controversial political fundraiser and government contractor Dennis Mitsunaga.
The only negative testimony came November 19, 2020 from community activist Natalie Iwasa who asked: “How many properties would be impacted by this bill? In addition to the cost of lost revenue, what would it cost to implement this program? Is the Council going to propose similar limitations for other property owners that receive limited city services? For example, what about residential property owners who receive private party trash pickup services and live on non-city owned roadways? Will they be provided caps on their assessments as well?”
With a newly-elected Council, last year’s unfinished bills are being brought back up for consideration. On February 3, 2021, the new Council Budget Committee voted unanimously to defer Bill 31 indefinitely.
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