Big Island mayor presses council for sales tax increase
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) – The Big Island mayor is pushing officials to approve a half-cent general excise tax, saying the revenue would be double what officials initially calculated.
Mayor Harry Kim announced this week that the surcharge would bring the Big Island $50 million annually, instead of the $25 million previously projected, West Hawaii Today reported .
The estimated higher revenue stems from a more accurate calculation issued by the state Department of Taxation, said Deanna Sako, the county finance director.
Should the county council approve the surcharge, Kim said his administration would take a cooperative approach in setting priories for how to use the additional revenue.
“I consider this a gift to the people of Hawaii Island,” Kim said. “It’s a tremendous gift to help us catch up.”
The island’s current budget proposal of $515.7 million allows only the bare minimum for maintenance of existing roads, parks and other projects, Kim said. The budget does not call for any new property taxes, and the state collects all the revenue from current general excise taxes.
The council in February postponed action on the tax increase to no later than May.
Despite seeking more resources for her district, Councilwoman Jen Ruggles said she is against the tax increase. Taxes should target those who can afford to pay more, she said.
“Considering taking care of our private roads is long overdue, however, this tax is still regressive, still taxes food and medicine and still hurts those (who) can least afford it,” Ruggles said.