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Council clears bill on rezoning taxes

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Property owners whose tax bills soared when their dwellings were reclassified to commercial/industrial use from residential use would get immediate tax assistance under a proposal the City Council passed yesterday.

The measure now goes to acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who has 10 working days from the time the proposal reaches his desk, to sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature.

That deadline may come before Oct. 8, when Mayor-elect Peter Carlisle is expected to take office, but Caldwell has said he would work with the incoming administration on bills that come to his office during the transition period.

Caldwell has said he supports providing some form of tax help to affected property owners. Carlisle has said he would like to listen to the arguments on the issue because he feels they may have merit.

Resolution 10-260 was approved 8-0, with Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi recusing herself from the vote because her family owns one of the properties.

Affected property owners would pay the residential tax rate, and those who already paid the higher taxes or a portion under an installment plan would get refunds or tax credits. Property owners must meet certain requirements to qualify for the residential rate.

About 250 property owners in parts of Kalihi, Waipahu, Kapahulu and Moiliili were affected when real property assessors classified the properties under the law according to "highest and best use."

Upon approval, the city would send property owners a letter detailing the steps they would have to take to qualify for the assistance, Council Chairman Todd Apo said.

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