By Keli‘i Akina
When new property assessments threatened to ship Hawaii’s property taxes sky-high, my colleagues and I on the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii had been among the many first to sound the alarm.
We adopted up by supporting proposals that would scale back the influence of the upper assessments, together with greater house owner exemptions, decrease tax charges and taxpayer credit.
And our council members have been listening.
In each county — Kauai, Honolulu, Maui and Hawaii — we now have seen curiosity in offering property tax aid — and never only for owners, however for different property house owners as nicely.
A number of payments have already handed, and plenty of council members have requested for extra details about methods to reform the property tax techniques of their counties.
A number of have even publicly thanked the Institute for its work on the property tax concern.
In April, Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo appeared on KKCR radio’s “Kaua‘i Soapbox” — hosted by Kauai Councilmember Felicia Cowen — to speak about property tax reform, and he started his remarks with a “thanks” to the Grassroot Institute.
“I respect the Grassroot Institute,” he stated. “They do superb work and, you recognize, it’s helped us out fairly a bit, so I’m simply having fun with the dialogue.”
In June, Honolulu Councilmember Andria Tupola cited (on the 6:6:42 mark) the Institute’s testimony whereas speaking concerning the Council’s efforts to move a one-time actual property tax credit score, which Mayor Rick Blangiardi had proposed ought to be $300.
“I needed to inform them, ‘Thanks,’” Tupola stated, “as a result of [Ted Kefalas, Institute director of strategic campaigns] has been fairly lively. … We learn your testimonies, we respect the breakdown of arithmetic in order that we will make higher choices.”
On the similar assembly, Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters added (on the 6:6:43 mark): “I too need to thank Ted Kefalas. … I do recall what he stated throughout the course of, that $380 would equal the quantity that most individuals’s property tax went up. We tried to stand up to $380. However holding in thoughts all the extra funding for public security, we compromised at $350.”
Then, simply final week, following oral testimony by Ted relating to Invoice 37, which might improve the earnings eligibility for a property tax credit score, Honolulu Metropolis Council Vice Chair Esther Kia’aina stated she needed to “mahalos”Ted and the Institute for “bird-dogging not simply this invoice however different payments all through this course of.”
These and related feedback I’ve heard from county officers concerning the work we’ve been doing on the Grassroot Institute have warmed my coronary heart.
It’s straightforward to be cynical about politicians and tax reform, however in each county, native policymakers have been heeding the calls to scale back the property tax burden for his or her constituents. I’m grateful and humbled that our work has performed an element on this.
It’s proof that by working collectively, we actually will help make a distinction towards decreasing the price of dwelling, increasing alternatives and making Hawaii a spot the place all of us can thrive and prosper.
Keli‘i Akina is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.