(BIVN) – The Hawaii County Council voted on Friday to reconsider a previously failed bill to establish a general excise tax on the Big Island, only one day before a state-imposed deadline to enact the surcharge.
Bill 159 establishes a one-quarter (.25) percent general excise and use tax surcharge on goods and services “to fund operating or capital costs of public transportation systems within Hawaii County, to be levied beginning January 1, 2019.” The council already voted the bill down, but Puna councilwoman Eileen O’Hara requested the bill be reconsidered during a special meeting of the council in Hilo on Friday.
The resurrected bill passed with a 7-2 vote. The two “no” votes were Kona councilmember Dru Kanuha, and Puna councilmember Jen Ruggles.
The new GE tax will raise an estimated $20 million a year, officials say, and will sunset on December 31, 2020. Some councilmembers expressed a desire to revisit the sunset date in order to extend the life of the tax.