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Letters for Friday, September 5, 2014

• So how did we get here with property tax?

So how did we get here with property tax?

 At the recent tax workshop, which was sponsored by the Kauai County Council, I learned that in 2008 then Mayor Baptist identified some serious unfairness with regard to the 2 percent cap. He proposed a 35 percent reduction in taxes for all residents and an increase to the then low hotel and resort taxes to offset the reduction. Of those on the current council, Councilman Tim Bynum and Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura supported the mayor’s proposal — the council rejected it.

During the tough times since 2008, taxes for residents did not go down like Mayor Baptist wanted. They went up, a lot. Hotel and resort taxes went down, a lot. Our surplus is gone.

In 2012, Bynum proposed Bill 2425 that would have kept the safety of the cap in place for everyone. Bynum’s effort received support from Yukimura (Councilman Hooser was not on council) but the bill failed five to two. Had the bill passed, we may have been able to avoid the place we are in now and kept the cap.

In reading back over the budget discussions in the council minutes from 2013 and 2014, it looks to me like Hooser and Bynum again tried to lower the Homestead tax rate to provide relief for residents. They predicted and tried to avoid the fallout that we have now. The votes show that the rest of the council voted “no” to decreases for residents and also voted to avoid “too big of a hit” on the resort industry by setting their taxes lower, even lower than the mayor proposed this year.

Hopefully, we can have some insight into the present tax situation by learning from the past.

It seems like it would be very advantageous to have a regular summary in the newspaper of the proposals and the votes taken during council meetings, as very few people have time to research these decisions, which have huge impacts on our lives.

Diane de Vries, Kalaheo

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