KEALAKEHE, Hawaii – Today, the Hawaii County Council’s Finance Committee is set to discuss a proposal by the Hawaii Council of Mayors to the state legislature that would allow the counties to increase the general excise tax up to one percent.
Brenda Ford introduced the communication.
Last Wednesday, Mayor Billy Kenoi appeared with the state’s other three mayors before the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees, where he made the case on behalf of his fellow county leaders for the right to raise the tax, if each county should so choose.
The Chair of the State House Finance Committee, Representative Sylvia Luke, said she noticed the proposal was not on the Hawaii State Association of Counties legislative package. However, that same day the HSAC Executive Committee apparently met at Honolulu Hale in order to align with and support the mayors’ request.
The last minute vote of support from HSAC drew concern from at least one Kaua`i County Council member. Joann Yukimura sounded an alarm in a urgent message to fellow HSAC colleagues, a copy of which was included in Ford’s council committee communication.
Under HSAC’s rules, while the State Legislature is in session, the Executive Committee is able to take a position on revenue or home rule issues without ratification by every county council. I believe the purpose of the rule was to allow quick response to revenue and home rule issues that emerge unexpectedly during a legislative session. This is not the case with the 1% taxing power as the HSAC Executive Committee has already had three meetings on the subject in the last three months’. At their last meeting in December, the HSAC Executive Committee decided to wait till Opening Day of the 2014 Legislature, apparently in order to meet;the letter of the law.
I am writing you because I believe it is premature for HSAC to take a stand in favor of an unrestricted 1% excise taxing power, especially if it hasn’t been endorsed by all county councils.Joann Yukimura, January 14, 2014
The County Finance committee meets to discuss the proposal at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center.
The state GET is currently at 4 percent.