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Transit tax collections log their strongest month ever in June

Transit tax collections rebounded to their strongest month ever in June to top $18.5 million. The city needs to take in an average $14.5 million a month to meet its target of $174 million for the current fiscal year. 
The city’s fiscal year for transit tax collection purposes starts each April.
Despite the strong showing in June rail tax collections in the first three months of the fiscal year trailed year-ago figures as well as current year projections. From April through June the half-percentage point general excise tax surcharge raised $36.6 million, or an average of $12.2 a month, based on figures provided by the state Department of Taxation. During the year-ago period the tax raised $41.1 million, or an average of $13.7 million a month. 
City officials have downplayed the decline in transit tax collections, saying it will be covered by lower-than-anticipated project costs and a $1.3 billion set-aside in the financial plan for contingencies.
A half-percentage-point, 15-year surcharge was added to the general excise tax in Honolulu in January 2007 to pay for rail. All transit tax collection figures in this story exclude a 10 percent administrative fee retained by the state, which collects the taxes. 
The city expects the elevated commuter line to cost $5.5 billion to build.
Money from the local tax will be combined with $1.55 billion in federal money to pay for the project, which is scheduled to open in 2019.
So far the tax has raised $536 million for the city. The city has spent about $148 million on planning and design of the 20-mile East Kapolei to Ala Moana  rail line. 
Construction of the train was supposed to begin last December but has been delayed by a prolonged federal and state review of project environmental impacts.

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