Friday, Sept. 30, 2022|
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It’s hana hou for county property tax relief efforts next week as North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba gives it another shot.
Inaba’s attempts to reduce taxes for homeowners and affordable rentals fell flat last week amid a rush by council members to distribute revenue windfalls to county projects and accounts.
Council members at the time frowned on efforts by Inaba, Kohala Councilman Tim Richards and Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy to provide relief to the various property classes, with some wanting more relief for business and hotels, and others seeking to help out homeowners.
Inaba had ultimately withdrawn his resolution, saying the council had added so many expenses it would no longer balance. His new effort takes the final budget into consideration, while still providing tax relief, he said.
“I think this is the responsible and the right thing for this council to do,” he said, “and we shouldn’t be collecting more than we’re spending.”
Mayor Mitch Roth, in his proposed budget, had also recommended a host of property tax cuts. His, however, were more aimed at the hotel/resort class and other business classes. And apartments, which currently have the highest rate, would have been reduced 60 cents to match that of other residential property, under Roth’s plan.
Inaba’s latest effort, to be heard at the June 15 council meeting, gives a small break to homeowners and affordable rentals, while giving the biggest break to those in the commercial and industrial class.
“I’m trying to help small business and I think that’s what the council also wants,” Inaba said Monday. “The council should follow through with what they’re talking about.”
Inaba’s latest plan, Resolution 441, lowers real property tax rates for homeowners and affordable rentals by 10 cents, agriculture and native forests by 20 cents and commercial and industrial by 25 cents. Residential tier 1 is lowered by 10 cents, while residential tier 1, apartments and hotel/resort and golf courses would stay at their current rates.
Inaba said his colleagues on the council can offer amendments to his resolution if they want to push certain categories over others.
Lee Loy wonders if it’s too late.
“Four days ago we had 8 million dollars that could have provided relief across all tax categories, however, that train has left the station and I’ll need to hear from Finance Director Sako,” Lee Loy said.
The council has until June 20 to set property tax rates. The new budget will go into effect July 1.
The council approved the budget, Bill 126, by a 6-3 vote, with Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, Lee Loy and Richards voting no.
Beefed up security for county parks and buildings, increased community policing, fences to keep out pigs, increased funding for parks and money for council contingency accounts were among some 20 amendments adding $5.6 million to Roth’s $779.7 million budget proposal that was already increased by 27.8% over the current year.
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