Council to consider gas tax hike

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council on Wednesday will consider a proposal to increase the gas tax by 15 cents per gallon beginning Jan. 15.

The proposal, being introduced by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, would also call for an increase in bio-diesel fuel by 10 cents per gallon.

The measure would eliminate the liquid tax increase on July 26, 2026, and lower the bio-diesel tax hike by 5 cents on the same date.

Yukimura said on Friday there will be no painless way to improve the county’s transportation system, and said it’s crucial to consider a variety of options before conditions get worse.

“What I’m hoping for is a very robust community discussion and participation,” she said.

Yukimura said she believes that an increased fuel tax may soften the economic impact for residents, while providing a better means to collect from visitors who also impact the road system.

“We need to let the state Legislature know that we (Kauai’s elected officials) are trying to address these needs at a local level and we are trying to offset the impacts of tourism,” she said. “It’s a very powerful position for us to be in with the Legislature.”

The councilwoman said national statistics indicate the average owner of a compact car pays about 30 cents per day, or $10 per month, on car maintenance. Those costs soar when roads deteriorate, Yukimura said.

“You can’t fix roads for nothing,” she said. “It’s a very hard choice and we have to discuss our (funding) options.”

Yukimura’s proposal is an option to raising the general excise tax by a half percent, to 4.5 percent, to fund public transportation projects, which the county is also considering.

The proposed half percent GET increase is expected to generate about $250 million over a 10-year period.

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