The Kauai County Council faces significant issues, and it needs business maturity and experience to resolve them. We risk losing our county’s institutional memory — our memory of what has been tried and failed, and what has succeeded.
Our real property taxation system is a mess of uncoordinated small repairs made over years. It is no longer a uniform taxation plan that is broadly fair. The (permanent home use) cap was introduced to buy us the time to do it right and for the right reasons. We need a complete overhaul to ensure real property taxation meets the county’s needs and fairly apportions charges to property owners.
The county is nearly finished with regional plans for the South Shore and Lihue areas and is about to rebuild its General Plan. We need to carefully review those documents to be sure they are in sync with our desired future.
Kauai County’s budget requires serious attention. It is true that the voters added a separate county Parks Department, a Boards and Commissions office and a new Auditor’s office. Each of these charter amendments added millions to our operating costs. We need to look at how we can meet the voters’ requirements without driving the county into a series of financial challenges.
The value of the transient accommodations tax (TAT) for which the county has been capped was also a significant loss of income for the counties. Kauai’s depleted share kept by the state for the past three year period was $27.1 million, and going forward, we have been capped again and are forecasted to lose an additional $18 million of what should be our fair share for the next two years. These monies had been focused on public safety, police, fire, beach lifeguards, air rescue and our transportation system — all of which are subject to our collective bargaining agreements. We need to come up with solutions that are balanced, fair and reasonable for the right reasons.
Jay Furfaro is the chair of the Kauai County Council.