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Hokama proposes $703 million county budget

Hokama

WAILUKU — Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama has proposed keeping the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course open, raising some county rates and fees and a mixed bag of increases and decreases to property tax classifications, compared to the proposed budget of Mayor Alan Arakawa.

“I believe the proposal before you is fiscally sound,” Hokama told members as he presented his fiscal 2018 budget to the committee Monday.

The proposal is $703 million, or about $17 million less than Arakawa’s proposed budget of $720.3 million, which he presented to the council in March. The mayor’s budget floated closing the Waiehu golf course due to millions of dollars in losses. He also proposed increasing various rates and fees, including residential trash pickup, and raising property taxes by 7.5 percent across the board.

The budget for the the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is $659.5 million. The council has until June 10 to take final action on the budget, which takes effect July 1.

Council members will review the proposal and make adjustments. Hokama said that he took suggestions from members, saying that not everyone got what they wanted but that there was something requested by each of the members in his proposal. The committee will begin its deliberations at 9 a.m. today in Council Chambers in the Kalana O Maui building.

Hokama added that the budget is affected by decisions at the state Legislature, which will adjourn next week. The counties are facing lower shares of the transient accommodations tax, or hotel room tax, intended to help them offset costs for infrastructure and other services, especially those that are impacted by tourists.

Currently, the counties share $103 million with Maui County receiving $23.5 million, but council Chairman Mike White told lawmakers earlier this year that, over an eight-year period, the counties have incurred $170 million more in costs for visitor-related services without a corresponding increase in revenue.

For property tax rates, Hokama is not proposing a blanket rate change, but differing increases based on the categories. Time shares would see the highest increase from the current rate of $14.31 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation to $15.43, which is higher than what Arakawa proposed at $15.38.

Homeowners would see the smallest increase, from $2.70 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation to $2.86, under Hokama’s proposal. Arakawa proposed $2.90.

The following are the proposed rates from Hokama, the mayor’s proposal and current rates per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation for each class of property:

• Homeowner. $2.86, $2.90, $2.70.

• Commercialized Residential. $4.58, $4.68, $4.35.

• Residential. $5.54, $5.70, $5.30.

• Agricultural. $6.01, $6.09, $5.66.

• Apartment. $6.32, $6.45, $6.

• Conservation. $6.37, $6.24, $5.80.

• Commercial. $7.28, $7.10, $6.60.

• Industrial. $7.49, $7.19, $6.69.

• Hotel and Resort. $9.37, $9.36, $8.71.

• Time Share. $15.43, $15.38, $14.31.

The amount of property taxes paid are based on the rates and property valuations, which rose 2.9 percent, the mayor said.

As for other rates and fees, Hokama is seeking to raise residential trash collection fees but with a smaller hike than Arakawa proposed. Monthly trash fees for Maui and Molokai would rise from the current $24 to $27. Arakawa sought $30. On Lanai, monthly trash fees would go from $12 to $14. Arakawa proposed $15.

Hokama also is seeking a hike in commercial tipping fees, but at less than Arakawa’s 22 percent increase from $81 per ton to $99 at the landfill. Hokama is seeking $90 per ton.

The $3 per vehicle fee for dumping trash at the Central Maui Landfill was retained by Hokama.

Hokama’s budget proposal includes some increases that the mayor did not propose. Sewer fees, for example, would go up from $29.20 to $30.08 per month for single-family and duplex dwellings served by the county water system.

In keeping a pledge he made earlier this month, Hokama took the Waiehu golf course off the chopping block.

Arakawa has said that the course is losing nearly $3 million a year and has lost $16.3 million in the past decade. He proposed the closure of the 87-year-old course.

Since the mayor made his proposal, golfers and supporters have rallied to keep the course open, saying that working people, retirees and students would not have a place to golf if the course closed. During budget committee meetings, council members have said that they do not want to see the course closed.

However, Hokama is seeking rate increases at the municipal course. For example, residents would pay $15 versus $13 per round on weekdays and $22 instead of $18 on weekends and holidays. Resident retirees would pay $10 on weekdays instead of $8 and $14 instead of $12 on weekends and holidays. Out-of-state visitors would pay $58 on weekdays and $63 on weekends and holidays.

Students would continue to pay $2 on weekdays and $3 on weekends.

Hokama has proposed $142 million in capital improvement projects versus Arakawa’s $157 million.

Funding for the new county service center in the Maui Business Park in Kahului to house the Motor Vehicle and Licensing and Real Property Tax divisions and the Department of Housing and Human Concerns is included in both Hokama’s and Arakawa’s budgets. Hokama’s budget included $25 million while Arakawa’s proposal called for $28.6 million.

For more information on Hokama’s budget proposal, see mauicounty.us/2018budget.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.