A slight increase in Oahu property values means the City Council and incoming administration of Mayor-elect Kirk Caldwell can expect some additional tax revenue to work with as they craft the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Meanwhile, a key Council member says it is too soon to say whether property owners can expect an increase in real property tax rates.
"We’re going to try our very hardest" not to raise the rate, Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said.
Property values on Oahu rose 2.3 percent over the past year, the city said Friday.
Total gross assessed valuation of all taxable real property on Oahu was $184.4 billion, compared with $180.2 billion a year ago. Gross valuations of residential property increased 2.1 percent, to $148.1 billion from $145.1 billion.
Hotel and resort property values increased 9.4 percent, commercial property values increased 0.7 percent and industrial property values increased 3.2 percent, the city said.
Property values rose highest, 5 percent, in Council District 7, Wahiawa. Values dipped 0.4 percent in District 4, Waimanalo to Waikane, and in District 6, North Shore, representing the largest decreases.
Officials credited new developments, improvements to existing buildings and increases in the values of residential and hotel resort properties as the main reasons for the overall increase.
"It is encouraging news, particularly that the increase of nearly $4 billion in assessments is coming from new developments, a sure sign that the city’s economic picture is getting brighter," Council Chairman Ernie Martin said in a statement.
The latest tax assessments do not necessarily correspond to how much property owners will pay in taxes next year. That will be determined when the Council sets tax rates in June. For residential properties the current rate is $3.50 per $1,000 of property value.
Caldwell will propose the tax rates when he presents his budget to the Council in March. The final rates will be determined by the Council as it completes the budget before the end of June.
During the recently concluded mayoral campaign, Caldwell pledged to "hold the line" on taxes.
"As mayor I will look for every possible opportunity to grow our economy now," he states on his campaign website. "It is the best way to keep the city moving and to enhance the tax revenue without raising taxes."
A spokeswoman for Caldwell said Friday he would withhold comment on the property assessments and their effect until he becomes mayor and has a chance to review the budget.
Kobayashi said she looks forward to seeing what services the mayor plans to increase or trim when he presents his budget. During the campaign Caldwell pledged to restore bus service that had been cut by Mayor Peter Carlisle.
"We’ll see how sharp a knife they take to the budget before they present it to us in March," she said.
In the meantime she and other Council members will be doing their own research to see where money could be saved or put to better use.
"We’ve been talking about this in preparation, trying to see where we can cut back on things that won’t hurt everything," she said. "There’s some areas I’m looking at where there’s some waste, I think."
She identified street pickup of garbage as one area, saying she plans to examine "discrepancies" over who pays for the service in various instances.
"We’re looking all over, but it’s like, we don’t want to cut public safety," Kobayashi said. "That’s why we don’t want to add any new parks, because we have to take care of the ones we have now."
Property tax assessments are being mailed this week to homeowners and other real property owners. Owners who do not receive their property tax assessments by the end of the year are advised to contact the Real Property Assessment Division.