Maui’s tourist accommodation investors not paying fair share

At the April 24 property tax hearing, an orchestrated lineup of hotel managers and lobbyists asked the council to spare their hotels, condos and timeshares from higher rates. Some resort employees were convinced they would lose their jobs.

Tourism was touted as a benefit for Mauians. Long ago that was true; now we have overtourism, traffic congestion, run-down parks, an appalling lack of affordable housing and a declining local population as families head to the Mainland for better pay and living conditions.

Inequitable property tax rates helped these problems fester. Fairer rates can help to relieve them. Some principles that should guide our council members’ decision-making: raise the hotel, condo, timeshare and vacation rental rate to that paid on Oahu, adjusted for the higher room rates here. Higher rates there haven’t caused a decline in tourism or any loss of jobs, and they won’t here.

Then, reduce the property tax rate on local families occupying their own homes or renting longtime to working families.

Use the increased county tax income to address traffic issues and buy land to build affordable housing.

As for the scare tactics about tourists going elsewhere, I don’t think so. Despite a tax value assessment of only $330 million, the Grand Wailea sold last year for $1.1 billion. The new owners’ stock share price increased by 33 percent. Business is good.

Good for them. How are you and your family doing?

Mark Sheehan

Haiku