Rare tax cuts proposed

  • Richards

HILO — Kohala Councilman Tim Richards is attempting something that rarely happens in Hawaii County government — he wants to lower taxes.

Measures to be heard Monday by the County Council Finance Committee would lower rates for both property tax and fuel tax.


Richards is offering the tax cuts as a way to make a half-cent county surcharge on the state general excise tax more palatable. A sharply divided council last week voted 5-4 to postpone the proposed GET increase until January.

Richards reasoned that lowering property and fuel taxes while raising general excise taxes would shift more of the burden to visitors. Taxes on tourists are collected only by the state, with $19.3 million of transient accommodations tax passed on to the county.

“Our citizens would have the increase in their taxes from the GET offset by a decrease in their (property tax) and (fuel tax). The net effect is approximately zero,” Richards said in a statement. “An additional $10 million projected from GET would mostly come from our visitors. This increased tax collection primarily from outside the county could be a win for the county.”

Mayor Harry Kim’s administration opposes the tax cuts at this time. Even if the GET is eventually passed, it would return only about $7.5 million to the general fund, because the GET must be used for transportation projects, Finance Director Deanna Sako said. The Legislature had been ready to expand 40 percent of the tax for other county purposes, but changed the bill during last-minute negotiations at the end of the session.

Without the GET offset, the county falls further in the hole, Sako said.

“Given the fact they’ve postponed the GET, I think both of these are inappropriate at this time,” Sako said Wednesday.

The mayor’s proposed $518 million budget relies on increases in property values, landfill tipping fees and housing grants to reach its new historic level, a 5.5 percent increase over last year. The council will be taking it up Tuesday.

It’s been a dozen years since property taxes were lowered. An across-the-board average 12.6 percent decrease in rates proposed by Kim was passed by the County Council in 2006.

Since then, tax rates have risen steadily, even as property values increased as well.

“It is my responsibility to provide my constituents the best possible fiscal oversight of the county budget,” Richards said Thursday. “All of our introduced measures will be used to help with the conversations concerning next year’s budget.”

Richards wants to lower rates for all but the affordable rental housing and homeowners classes; categories that were spared during last year’s round of tax hikes. The drop in taxes would cost the county $10.3 million.

He also wants to lower fuel taxes by 5 cents a gallon starting in the fiscal year that starts July 1, then another 9 cents next year, bringing it to 14 cents per gallon both years when automatic increases are taken into account.


Fuel taxes were raised by 6.2 cents a gallon last year, with incremental 4-cent-per-gallon increases kicking in automatically, under legislation passed last year by the council.

Resolution 615, lowering property taxes, and Resolution 616, lowering fuel taxes, are scheduled to be heard by the Finance Committee at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Hilo council chambers. The public can also participate through videoconferencing at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Waimea and Pahoa council offices, old Kohala courthouse and Naalehu state office building.

  1. paul May 20, 2018 4:29 am

    sounds ok

  2. 4whatitsworth May 20, 2018 5:50 am

    If the tax on food were removed this could be a very good idea. Tax the things where we have a choice.

    1. Du Mhan Yhu May 20, 2018 3:55 pm

      Why would they want to stop there? So much money to be sheared from the sheep, who will never vote the thieves out of office..

  3. Big ideas May 20, 2018 6:50 am


  4. LOL in Kona May 20, 2018 7:33 am

    Oh my!
    it is so stressful, the mayor and his pals will need another raise!!
    …they need that money to give to friends, “non-profits”, etc!!
    ……it is very important!! (to keeping their cushy salary, cushy pension,
    cushy medical,
    ……..cushy, cushy, cushy!!

    And, with less money, money, money,
    …….they will have let go fire and police people!!
    The poor sweet leeches, loafers, and druggies deserve to to cared for
    ….can’t cut them…and you don’t need no stink’in water or sewer!

  5. Bigislandfarmer May 20, 2018 8:44 am

    GE tax which is currently the same as an 18% sales tax should be eliminated entirely and replaced with a low sales tax. Such a tax should also exempt food, clothing, and medication. If only actual Democrats were in charge here. Why is this crook even on the Council? He lied about owning a vacation rental and continued to do so even after Eoff was caught in her own criminal activity.

    1. shleabor May 20, 2018 8:21 pm

      Excuse me. Where are you getting vacation rentals are illegal? You are such a
      hater and harbinger of fake news. Im ashamed that your handle is Farmer— fake farmer more like it.

      1. Bigislandfarmer May 21, 2018 7:55 am

        It’s illegal to lie on required income disclosure forms. Eoff hid at least $60,000 in income from County officials and the public until she got caught. When called on her conflict of interest she lied further and tried to intimidate into keeping the information from getting out. That’s called obstruction of justice and a cover up.

        1. shleabor May 21, 2018 9:12 am

          Oh really? So you know more than the Board of Ethics? And you are accusing Councilman Richards of lying, your own words “illegal vacation rental.” There are no illegal vacation rentals… You better be paying your taxes on them, but they aren’t regulated so they aren’t illegal. I actually agree with you on the GE taxes, but then you have to resort to lying-calling honest people crooks. Sounds like you are projecting. And since you’re obviously a blue dog Democrat maybe you should understand the County Council is non-partisan. People like you give Democrats and Progressives a bad name. Seriously, change your handle because you are clearly not a farmer.

          1. Bigislandfarmer May 21, 2018 9:17 am

            I don’t know who you’re quoting, because my posts don’t contain the words “illegal vacation rental” as you claim. The Board of “Ethics” is so unethical they had a complaint filed against the board itself! They are all friends and former co-workers and employers of those on the Council and are appointed by Kim and approved by the Council to rubber stamp what they want, as they did in this case when they gave an “informal, advisory” opinion. In that process they actually said there is no such thing as a conflict of interest as long as the Council member discloses the information before a vote. So anyone could propose a bill that directly funnels 100% of County funds into their personal checking account and even THAT would not be a conflict of interest as long at the info was disclosed first. That’s the level of corruption we’re dealing with here.

          2. qui bono May 21, 2018 10:03 am

            shleabor is Councilman’s Richards wife Terri…
            see Westhawaiitoday Aug.02, 2016

          3. Bigislandfarmer May 21, 2018 10:05 am

            LOL! Maybe she should go take a nap on her millions of dollars for a while. So filthy rich they couldn’t even remember to disclose their sources of income.

          4. metalman808 May 21, 2018 6:04 pm

            A politicians wife calling you a fake farmer. Classic.

          5. shleabor May 21, 2018 6:35 pm

            Hi qui bono! Shall I post all of your identities? That California business is handy for that. Yeah, it’s my business and once again I’m a constituent too. The slander and lies you guys carry on about is unreal. You are completely out of touch and the Board of Ethics said no such thing. Public servants who seek solutions and transparency and business owners (like me!) and you piss and moan and lie. If you have real concerns you would get in and talk to them face to face instead of howling at the moon. You’re no farmer, you obviously haven’t done a day of hard work in your life or you wouldn’t be such a hater. LOL

          6. metalman808 May 21, 2018 6:13 pm

            He said nothing about illegal vacation rentals. But some reason you keep bringing it up. Something bothering you? Feeling guilty? I guess your a real farmer.

          7. shleabor May 21, 2018 6:39 pm

            “She” said illegal rentals on another article— sorry I’ve been reading her dishonesty for awhile.
            Vacation rentals need to be regulated. But they aren’t right now. Hang on I have to get qui bono’s IP address so I can reveal him again.

  6. onceawarrior May 20, 2018 12:26 pm

    My cynical questions on this presumptuous desire:
    Why does a legislator want to preempt the authority and responsibility of the executive?
    Perhaps he wants to enhance his political stature and embellish his wealth?

  7. Buds4All May 20, 2018 5:29 pm

    Careful Tim Richards your going to get drummer out of government office!

  8. Jim Passon May 21, 2018 6:08 am

    Think maybe he could use part of his 1,000s of acres to help big homeless problem ..do something

  9. metalman808 May 21, 2018 5:04 pm

    Election are coming. This is when they all start lying out their asses. And we seem to always buy it. Another politicians fake smile tells the whole story. That’s the grin of thank you suckers.

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