Council kills property tax freeze proposal

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council on Wednesday voted down a proposal that would freeze the real property taxes for qualified homestead properties that received substantial increases last year.

The proposal, which was voted down by a 5-0 vote, would have allowed the 2015 taxes for properties with home use exemptions to remain at 2014 levels, if their 2014 taxes increased due to the removal the permanent home use tax cap, any use changes, increases in various tax rates, or the recalculation of their property taxes based on current fair market values.

Kauai County Councilmen Gary Hooser, who introduced the bill, and Mason Chock Sr. were absent and did not vote.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said approving it would only continue real property tax inequalities, resulting in a loss in revenue when the county officials are already trying to streamline the budget for the upcoming 2015-2016 fiscal year.  

“It will surely result in a loss of essential services while giving some people up to $20,000 in tax subsidy whose homes are up for sale and $3 million or $13 million who rent their vacation rentals for $10,000 per week,” Yukimura said. “This is not equity, fairness or good governance.”

Hooser disagreed after the vote.

“I think it is crucial that homeowners be protected from ever increasing tax increases,” he wrote in an email. “We have to draw the line and say, ‘No more.’ This was a way to ensure the mayor will balance the budget without tax increases to homeowners.”

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