Last year, the county raised the property tax to offset the amount of property tax lost because of lowering property values. The taxpayer didn't feel it too much because the bill remained the same as the previous year. They called it revenue neutral.
This year, the mayor's balanced budget proposal lowered the homeowner rate to $2.20 per $1,000 and the council raised it to $2.75. This will mean a 25 percent increase in property taxes to homeowners.
The increase in anticipated revenues would go for unfunded liabilities in pension for county retirees and the employee health fund (The Maui News, May 7). Is the council inferring these costs were not in the mayor's proposal? That I doubt very much.
It looks like the council took the mayor's proposal and adjusted the tax rates for every classification of property, with the highest percentage rate increase going to homeowners. The anticipated revenue from homeowners would increase by $1.7 million.
Instead of raising taxes, why not lower the county's expenditures?
Why not follow Hawaii County, where the county budget was lowered by 9.4 percent over 3 years by freezing and not funding vacant positions.
Or consider the $24.5 million in grants we give away? Are all the grants necessary? A May 20 letter writer made an interesting argument regarding Maui Visitors Bureau's grant. I suspect grantees have become addicted to this source of easy income and have let their fundraising ability wither away.
Let's not place additional burdens on the people of Maui.