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Stable property values will mean smaller puka in city's pocketbook

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:13 a.m. HST, Dec 16, 2010



Oahu properties have largely maintained their value through the past year, allowing city officials to breathe a sigh of relief that the revenue will keep flowing even as the city faces an anticipated $100 million shortfall in next year's $1.8 billion operating budget.

How to appeal

DEADLINE FOR FILING

Owners who want to challenge their assessments have until Jan. 18 to file an appeal. For more information, go to www.honolulupropertytax.com or call the Real Property Assessment Divison at 768-3799.

NOTICE NOT RECEIVED

Property owners who have not received their assessment notices by Dec. 31 are advised to contact the city's Real Property Assessment Division at 842 Bethel St., Basement, Honolulu, HI 96813, or 768-3799; or 1000 Uluohia St., Suite 206, Kapolei, HI 96707, or 768-3169.

GET IT ONLINE

The tax assessment division website now allows property owners to register to receive their property assessment notices via e-mail, and file for home exemptions and property tax appeals online. Go to www.realpropertyhonolulu.com for more information.

E-MAIL

Questions may be e-mailed to bfsrpmailbox@honolulu.gov.
But the latest tax assessments do not necessarily mean property owners will pay the same amount in taxes next year. That will be determined when the City Council sets tax rates in June.

If no changes in rates are made, the assessments will mean about the same amount of income from property taxes, which accounts for the bulk of the city's operating budget revenues.

"It's a welcome relief," Council Chairman Nestor Garcia said about the assessments.

The total gross assessed valuation of all taxable real property on the island decreased to $178.31 billion from $178.35 billion. That's a relatively small drop of $40 million, or two-tenths of 1 percent.

Last year's total assessed value fell 6.7 percent from the previous year.

In the past, city officials have said every 10 percent drop in assessments amounts to an $85 million loss in revenues.

Tax assessment notices being sent out to roughly 290,000 property owners this week may see an increase, decrease or no change in their individual assessments depending on sales of similar properties in their respective neighborhoods.

The rate cards are not tax bills. How much a property owner pays is based on the assessed value, minus exemptions, multiplied by the tax rate.

City assessors said new developments -- including residential subdivisions, condominiums, commercial and industrial projects, and the construction of new buildings and improvements on existing parcels helped offset the decrease in total property values.

The residential class as a whole, which comprises the lion's share of the island's parcels as well as value, actually increased in worth to $143.98 billion from $143.41 billion, or 0.4 percent.

Hotel and resort property values increased 4.1 percent. Commercial and industrial properties, however, saw their values go down 2.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The city cited statistics from Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties showing the median sales price of an Oahu single-family home in October was $595,750, a decrease of 1.4 percent from October 2009.

Among Oahu's nine property tax zones, four saw increases in residential property values while five saw decreases. The North Shore zone dropped 7.3 percent from a year ago while Kaaawa-Kahuku declined 7.1 percent.

On the flip side, Central Oahu saw a 2.6 percent increase in value, while urban Honolulu jumped 2.1 percent.

Garcia, who recently became Council chairman after leading the Budget Committee for several years, said rather than focusing on how much the city has in revenues, the Council will look at how much it needs to spend.

Garcia said he's "eagerly anticipating" Mayor Peter Carlisle's first budget submittal in March.

The mayor has promised no tax increases and expressed a strong desire to eliminate city worker furloughs, Garcia said. Pointing out that the city saved $28 million in this year's budget by instituting the furloughs, Garcia said "he's going to need to come up with $28 million from somewhere."

The city needs to reach collective bargaining agreements with all four unions representing city employees, Garcia said. He also said he has "a gut feeling" that the city's share for paying for security for next year's Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference will be significantly higher than current estimates.

Garcia said he is further worried that the city may need to pay a larger share in employer-union trust fund payments and that state lawmakers may choose to take a bigger bite out of the counties' share of hotel room tax revenues.






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