Council to talk about Oahu rail

LIHUE — A resolution showing support of extending the general excise tax (GET) to help fund a portion of the Honolulu rail project will be vetted Wednesday at the Kauai County Council meeting.

According to the measure, the most recent revenue and expenditure projections for the minimum operable segment, or MOS, of the rail project show that an additional $2.8 billion is needed to complete the section between East Kapolei and Ala Moana.

That section spans 21 miles and has 20 transit stations.

In 2016, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation submitted a draft update for the financial plan for the federal grant, which stated the estimated cost to complete the project was $9.5 billion.

“The GET surcharge is a comparatively stable funding source that is imposed only on business operations in the city, and will allow HART to engage in long-term planning for the rail project,” the resolution reads.

If approved by the Kauai County Council, the resolution will show the Garden Isle’s support of the state Legislature’s approval of an extension of the Honolulu GET and use tax surcharge.

Finding funds to pay for the rail project was a contentious issue during the 2017 legislative session.

The state House of Representatives and Senate could not agree on amendments to Senate Bill 1183, which proposed to reduce TAT allocations from $90 million to $83 million to fund Honolulu’s rail project. The measure also sought to increase hotel taxes from 9.25 percent to 12 percent over the next 1o years.

The Senate version proposed extending the general excise tax surcharge an additional 10 years. The House version would have extended the GET surcharge one year and raised the state’s transient accommodations tax 1 percent for 11 years.

Councilmembers are also going to discuss a request from the county Department of Parks and Recreation to enter an adopt-a-park agreement for the stewardship of Kukui Heiau, on the north side of the Wailua River.

As per the agreement, James Alalem, William King Kaauwai II and Na Hoku Welo will be the stewards of Kukui Heiau, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The stewards will maintain the grounds and signage, while checking the site to prevent vandalism and damage.

The Kauai County Council meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Historic County Building.

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