Property tax relief may come this year
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Robbie Dingeman
The City Council is poised today to pass three bills designed to offer tax relief to property owners reeling from years of double-digit increases in property-tax bills.
The council pushed forward the three proposals from more than a dozen possibilities in response to complaints from hundreds of homeowners about the effect of years of big tax hikes.
Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said the council moved quickly to get the ideas out now — in the week before Mayor Mufi Hannemann sends out his proposed budget so that he could adjust his spending plan to fit with their ideas.
Together, the three measures would get modest relief to property owners this year and next, and offer hope for the future with a change in the method of property assessment for the long term, Kobayashi said.
The bills to be voted on would offer a break this way:
Kobayashi has been most optimistic about Bill 12, a move to change the way assessments are calculated, as a longer-term solution. The measure is opposed by the administration.
The push for tax relief comes from Honolulu property owners stung by three years of double-digit increases in their property assessments and skyrocketing tax bills.
City officials calculate that higher assessments mean the city will collect $125 million more in property taxes this fiscal year than last if tax rates remain the same.
Hannemann is proposing a one-time tax credit of about $40 million coupled with a new homeowner's classification to favor residents over people who quickly buy and sell homes.
Hannemann also wants $20 million to go into a rainy-day or reserve fund and the other $65 million to go toward such fixed costs as salaries and debt.
But his measures have been put on hold for now as council members came up with their own proposals and awaited specifics on Hannemann's plans from tomorrow's State of the City address and next week's budget plan.
Reach Robbie Dingeman at email@example.com.