Mayor, council favor property tax reform

Mayor Bryan Baptiste and the Kauai County Council on Friday announced the formation of a real property tax task force as a first step toward tax reform.

Group members were appointed by Baptiste’s administration and the council.

The group’s formation comes as the administration and the council look at ways to more fairly tax property owners.

The council and the administration want to revise the tax structure in a way that would allow longtime homeowners to remain in their homes and not be taxed off their properties.

Some homeowners have been put in this situation because of increased demand for housing in some parts of the island, resulting in rapid and repeat sales in those areas.

Approved county legislation for a “circuit breaker” program helped homeowners by limiting the taxes in the homestead classes to a percentage of the adjusted gross income of the household.

The program contrasted with a bill proposed by former council chair Ron Kouchi calling for a rollback of property assessments for two years and more, as a way to help homeowners, including senior citizens, remain on their properties.

The new council opted for the circuit breaker program, which remains in effect for only a year, hence the county’s tax reform push.

The task force will review the current real property tax structure and processes and may make recommendations to the council, county officials said.

Administration and council appointees to the task force include Dorothy Bekeart, Raymond Chuan, Michael Dyer, Steven Hunt, Steven Nishimura, Arnold Nurock, Roy Oyama and Curtis Tom.

The ninth member, David Pratt, was selected by the eight appointed task force members at the group’s first meeting on May 22.

Gary Heu, administrative assistant, said the formation of the task force is a combined effort of Baptiste’s administration, the council and the community.

“Real property taxes have great impacts on our communities,” Heu said. “It is important that the administration, Council and community work together on this issue to provide fair, equitable and administrable proposals to address the issues facing the county and its property owners.”

Council chair Kaipo Asing said the task force will play an important role in advising the county on ” what is fair to our property owners under the county’s current real property tax system and what issues need to be addressed as concerns.”

“On behalf of the Council, I also want to extend our sincere appreciation to the task force members for stepping up to serve the community. They have a major job ahead of them,” Asing said.

At its May 22 meeting, tax reform issues were identified and the next two meetings were set.

A chairperson will be selected at the next meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m. on June 4 at the Lihu’e Civic Center meeting rooms 2A/2B.

For more information, contact Eric Knutzen, the task force coordinator and the county’s deputy finance director, at 241-6565.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and


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