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Public participation critical for real property tax rates, FY 2021 budget

COUNCIL'S 3 MINUTES

This is a year that our capacity as a community is being tested as never before.

While the pandemic has challenged our county budget deliberations by precluding in-person deliberations, I am encouraged by the online participation of members of the public via online conferencing services provided by a service called BlueJeans.

The budget process not only addresses the needs for fiscal year 2021 (which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2021) but also seeks to ensure that funds and services will be available for future years. The downturn in future revenues due to the pandemic will force hard decisions by the council, as we try to meet community needs while preparing Maui County for recovery and diversification of our economic drivers.

A public hearing on rates for real property taxes — the county government’s primary revenue source — is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The structure used to establish real property tax rates was adopted in late 2019. The names and descriptions of classifications were amended, and certain classes now will be tiered based on value.

The residential and homeowner classes were amended to “owner-occupied” and “non-owner occupied,” respectively, with the intent that an owner-occupied residence will receive the greatest tax relief, while properties leased or rented will be taxed at a higher rate. Both of these classes are subject to tiered rates.

Lower-value homes, assessed at up to $800,000 in value, are set to be taxed at lower rates. Homes assessed at values greater than $1.5 million would be taxed at the highest rates.

The home exemption and so-called circuit breaker tax credit will continue to provide relief. The circuit breaker allows for limits on the tax bills of homeowners with income below $100,000.

Also, industrial and commercial classifications, which were formerly combined, are now separated into their own classes, and each can be tiered based on value. The council has only proposed tiers for the commercial category at this time.

Information about the hearing and proposed range of tax rates under consideration is available at tinyurl.com/yasfm6cx.

Written testimony should be submitted to county.clerk@mauicounty.us at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. Oral testimony can be provided either via BlueJeans videoconference or phone.

To join the meeting by phone, call (408) 740-7256 or (888) 240-2560 (toll free), and enter meeting ID 358865836 and passcode 5937. You can also view the proceedings on Akaku, Channel 53.

Now is the time for all of us to work together to rebuild our community into a Maui Nui that our grandchildren will live in with pride. We will reflect on 2020 as the year of change — a year in which Maui County rediscovered itself and became a stronger, more resilient community.

Your participation in our new format is an important component by providing meaningful input into our county decision-making process.

* Yuki Lei Sugimura is chairwoman of the council Water, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. She holds the council seat for the Upcountry residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters and appears the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.

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