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Did you hear the Christmas carol last week? Maybe you’ve seen Christmas decorations brighten up any store.
No? Well, you don’t have to have been to Honolulu Hale. As for the city and county of Honolulu, Christmas came when the council began to consider Bill 40 – which, if approved, would allow the city to increase the tax on rooms d 3% hotel.
The money would be used to replace the money lost when the state removed all subsidies to the counties. Maui and Kauai are also implementing their own hotel room tax, but there’s a problem with Honolulu.
There is a lot of talk that the new tax would not just be used to pay police and firefighters, fix parks, improve municipal services and help the poor – no, the idea is to mount a funded rescue mission. by tourists.
Cue Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is coming.
Yes, the hotel room tax is seen as a way to bail out the railways, pay whatever it takes to fill the speculated $ 3 billion deficit, and put an end to this scam. Taxpayers would be off the hook; they might not even notice.
The bigwigs, however, already love, love, love the idea of raising hotel room taxes by 3% and using whatever portion they can recover to finish the rail.
From Linda Schatz, developer and wife of Hawaii’s Senior U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, to the all-powerful Carpenters Union, the Honolulu heavyweights have testified in favor of increasing hotel room taxes for the rail.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Town Hall reporter Ashley Mizuo gave the details.
“Bill 40 would levy a 3% tax on temporary accommodation in the city on visitor accommodation. It would be imposed in addition to the current state tourist tax of 10.25%. The counties received a total of about $ 130 million per year, with Honolulu County receiving 44%, or about $ 45 million. Honolulu’s proposed TAT would impose a 3% tax on all gross rental income from establishments such as vacation rentals, hotels and timeshares, ”she said, adding that Mayor Rick Blangiardi had expressed his support for the proposed tax, “but stopped before arguing for funds to be used on the city’s rail project.”
“If a fixed percentage of at least half of the county’s TAT is spent on construction, operation and railway activities such as TOD (Transient Focused Development), it will help create conditions conducive to the redevelopment of housing and pedestrian communities, ”said Linda Schatz, director of Schatz Collaborative.
“A fixed percentage of the city’s transitional accommodation tax (TAT) spent on rail is exactly what the county needs now to continue this project,” Hawaii operations engineers said.
“This new revenue stream, a tourist tax, comes from our visitors rather than our residents… A dedicated local revenue stream will enable the completion of a system that will transform Oahu,” said the General Contractors Association.
“Dedicating a percentage of the TAT will also pay for the ongoing operations and maintenance of the system after construction is complete, again without the need to raise property taxes,” the carpenters union added.
Mufi Hannemann, former mayor and one of the first city officials to lobby for rail, testified as president of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association.
He urged that taxpayer dollars be allocated to “projects more directly associated with the impacts of tourism such as trail management, beach and park maintenance, additional support to first responders and the provision of tourism. ‘adequate public security personnel on the beaches’.
No direct mention of using the money to save rail – but with the cheers already echoing through Town Hall, what more needed to be said?
Richard Borreca writes about politics on Sundays. Contact him at [email protected]
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