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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 4:06 p.m., Wednesday, August 8, 2007

State's top court throws out Kauai taxpayer challenge

 •  PDF: Hawai'i Supreme Court ruling

Advertiser Staff

The Hawai'i Supreme Court has ruled that the state constitution prevents residents of a county from changing property tax policy through the ballot box.

The court ruled that the "'Ohana Kaua'i" charter amendment approved by Kaua'i voters in 2004 was invalid. The court said in its decision that the state constitution delegates property taxation authority to the county government, not to the people.

"This decision says that it is government officials who have the exclusive say on property taxes, not the people who pay them," said Robert Thomas, attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented 'Ohana Kaua'i leaders Gordon G. Smith, Walter S. Lewis, Monroe F. Richman, and Ming Fang.

The group sought to reduce residential property taxes through the charter amendment process, since the Kaua'i County Charter already prohibited tax matters from being addressed through the ballot initiative process.