Senate passes TAT bill

LIHUE — A proposed bill to increase the counties’ allocation of money generated from the transient accommodations tax passed in the Hawaii Senate.

Senate Bill 1290, which proposes increases TAT shares from $103 million to $108 million after 2017, was unanimously approved on third reading. It will now go to the state House for discussion.

The proposal means a $5 million increase for the counties.

According to the bill, TAT revenues will be divided as follows: 14.5 percent for the County of Kauai, 18.6 percent for the County of Hawaii, 44.1 percent for the City and County of Honolulu and 22.8 percent for the County of Maui.

While Rep. Dee Morikawa, (D-16, Niihau, Koloa, Waimea), is not on the House Finance Committee, she said the bill has her approval.

“I will support whatever comes out with this bill. As you know, it changes as it moves through, but we all know how much counties rely on this funding,” she said.

Rep. Jimmy Tokioka (D-15, Wailua, Hanamaulu, Lihue, Koloa, Omao) is on the House Finance Committee. He supports the measure.

“I support giving the county additional money.”

In 2014, the Legislature capped county appropriation of TAT to $103 million.

The measure is a companion to HB 1476, which was introduced by Hawaii State Association of Counties. The measure seeks to allocate 55 percent of TAT funds to the state and divide the remaining 45 percent between all four counties.

“While HSAC supported the original version of this bill for a 55-45 percent split of the state hotel tax revenue between the state and four counties, we have concerns over the amended version of this measure,” said Mel Rapozo, council chair and representative for HSAC. “We will continue during the session to push for a more equitable share of the state hotel tax and remain hopeful for an outcome that is fair to all.”

Looking ahead, Tokioka said the proposed increase is a good first step in trying allocate more TAT revenues to the counties.

He also said he’s not opposed to trying to raise the shares more, but that all depends on the state budget.

“Looking at our budget and revenues, they’re looking a lot weaker than what we thought in beginning of year,” he said. “So before we start committing extra monies, let’s look at bottom net.”

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