UPDATE: Waimea GET Meeting RelocatedMarch 5, 2018, 8:21 AM HST (Updated March 6, 2018, 8:53 AM)
UPDATE: March 6, 2018
The special Waimea Community Association Town Meeting to discuss the proposed GET increase has been moved from the Waimea School cafeteria to Anna Ranch on Kawaihae Road. The meeting is still scheduled for Monday, March 12, 2018, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Parking at Anna Ranch both is available in the paved lot and on the grass just inside the main gate. Volunteers will help expedite parking. Attendees may want to bring a flashlight.
The meeting is being held at the specific request of Mayor Harry Kim and the Hawai‘i County Finance Department staff.
ORIGINAL POST: March 5
The Waimea Community Association has agreed to hold a second town meeting during March at the request of Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim to discuss a possible 0.5% increase in the General Excise Tax (GET).
The meeting will be held on Monday, March 12, 2018, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Waimea School Cafeteria.
The meeting will be facilitated by WCA for Mayor Kim and Hawai‘i County Finance Department staff led by Deanna Sako.
Data related to the county budget and proposed tax increase will be discloses, and there will be a question-and-answer session.
The proposed increase was triggered by Hawai‘i County budget shortfalls coupled with a bill passed
by the Hawai‘i State Legislature during a special session this past summer to resolve how the state
would fund the Honolulu rail system.
The bill that passed—over the objection of most Hawai‘i County Legislators—permits a portion of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) collected from Hawai‘i County hotels to be used by the state to pay for Honolulu’s rail.
The bill also allowed each county to opt to increase the GET to make up for the loss of TAT revenue.
Increasing the GET for Hawai’i County has been hotly contested at recent County Council meetings in large part because the county recently increased both its fuel tax and property taxes.
Further, the GET is seen as highly regressive in that it more directly impacts individuals and families with low and fixed incomes.
At the March 12 meeting, county finance staff will review the island’s overall budget, including projected costs for hauling trash to the West Hawai’i landfill as well as potential funding options for the yet-to-be-finalized County Mass Transit Plan that aims to significantly improve the Hele On bus system, which is suffering from severely aging equipment.
The current bill authorizing the county to raise the GET by 0.5% expires the end of March but the 2018 State Legislature appears poised to extend this deadline to early summer.
A bill to do so has passed the state Senate; as amended, the bill would give more leeway in what the increased revenue could be used for in addition to transportation-related expenses.
The Waimea meeting will be the last of a series of community meetings around the island requested by Mayor Kim.
Everyone is welcome to all Waimea Town meetings and there is no charge to attend, though
membership in the association is urged.
Dues for 2018 are due. The annual WCA membership fee is $15 for individuals and $25 for families.
As a not-for-profit 501(c)3, dues are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.