MORE TAXES WILL BE NECESSARY TO FINISH THE RAIL LINE WHILE FUNDS FOR BUILDING ROADS AND BIKE LANES DRY UP
News Release from Honolulu Councilman Tom Berg
(HONOLULU)–West Oahu Councilman Tom Berg does NOT want another increase in the General Excise Tax but the people of Oahu, not Councilman Berg should make that decision is his mantra. His plan is to have the city's Committee on Transportation pass Resolution 11-249 this Thursday that would urge the Hawaii State Legislature to allow the City and County of Honolulu to raise the General Excise Tax a half percent to fund road and bike lanes.
"Since rail will not give the motoring public any real relief to traffic congestion, and rail supporters will have to favor another General Excise Tax hike to finish the rail line to UH Manoa and Waikiki, we have to give the non-rail users, the working people who rely on goods, services and freight and have to stay on the roads, an option to actually address traffic congestion," stated Berg. His goal is to get the Legislature to pass a law allowing the City and County of Honolulu to have the same rights and privileges extended to the rail be dedicated for expediting road and bike lane construction.
Berg alluded to the fact that Oahu ranks last in the country when it comes to the number of lane miles offered its residents and how bike plan after bike plan for decades has produced next to nothing. Compounding the problem is that the rail surcharge prohibits funds for road and bike lane construction. "The people were duped thinking that the General Excise Tax increase on Oahu for transportation could be used for Bus Rapid Transit, Toll Roads, Managed Lanes and such, while all along the City spent millions touting these options when only rail by law could be advanced in the end," said Berg.
"It is time for the motoring public, the bus rider and bicycle user to fight back and counter this rail fiasco and consider their options. If my resolution gets passed, and the Legislature obliges, then the next step is to put the matter on the ballot for 2012 so the people can decide," said Berg, adding that, "Under no circumstances am I in favor of another General Excise Tax increase, but another one is coming around the corner to finish the rail like it or not and residents should have more options. I cannot sit here on the Council and do nothing and watch our 'third world' type conditions continue. My whole initiative is to empower the people and let them decide if they want a dedicated tax to bring us into the 21st century."
Resolution 11-249 is a "Hail Mary pass" according to Berg who claims if the people on Oahu like the current pace roads are being maintained and enjoy the absence of bike lanes, by all means do nothing. Berg concluded with, "My plan is to just let the people decide and put the tax proposal for roads on the ballot because without the option, we are going to get nothing but rail and that means you hope your neighbors ride it and forfeit their cars to experience better days ahead...most unlikely." See Committee on Transportation [AGENDA] and RESOLUTION 11-249 - County surcharge to the general excise tax for highway and bikeway construction. Urging the Legislature and the Governor to pass and approve legislation that would authorize the counties to enact a county surcharge of a half percent to the State General Excise Tax to be used for highway and bikeway construction.