Appeals high, but likely not a record
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Robbie Dingeman
At least 5,300 Honolulu property owners had appealed the city's property value assessments as of yesterday — the most in a decade — and more are being processed, a city official said.
Gary Kurokawa, administrator of the city's Real Property Assessment Division, said that is the raw number of appeals filed. "I expect it to grow by a couple hundred," he said.
But Kurokawa predicted the total number of appeals will fall short of the record 6,200 in 1995.
Although the deadline required the appeals to be postmarked or received by Jan. 17, Kurokawa said his office is still processing those that are still trickling through.
A hot real estate market pushed property assessments through double-digit increases for most Honolulu homes over the past three years. Residents are complaining that the rising values have doubled and tripled their tax bills in recent years yet offered no real benefit to those who aren't interested in selling.
When the latest property assessment notices went out last month, many homeowners protested Mayor Mufi Hannemann's original proposal to leave property tax rates where they are, which would bring the city a $125 million windfall based on the increased values.
Since then, Hannemann has modified his proposal to offer a tax credit worth $40 million to property owners, put $20 million into a rainy-day fund and set aside $65 million for salary costs, debt service and other government expenses.
Scores of taxpayers have called to complain that they need relief from the years of tax increases. Various City Council members, the mayor and even citizens' groups have proposed ways to give taxpayers a break. Some of those proposals will be debated tomorrow.
Reach Robbie Dingeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.