This story has been corrected. See below.
Kauai County officials will ask the state for a bigger slice of Hawaii’s hotel room tax.
Visitor-related expenses cost the county $44.2 million in fiscal year 2012, including nearly $25 million in operation expenses such as police and fire calls, said County Council legislative assistant Ashley Bunda.
Kauai County receives $13.7 million in hotel tax money and would like to see that doubled to $27.4 million, the Garden Island newspaper reported.
The state Transient Accommodation Tax is a 9.25 percent surcharge on hotel rooms. State lawmakers since 2010 have capped the hotel tax share for all counties at $93 million. Kauai County’s share was 14.5 percent.
The projected amount collected by the hotel tax this year is $352 million, a $98 million increase from the 2011 tax collection, Kauai County Council Chairman Jay Furfaro said two weeks ago. If the state had not capped the counties’ share, Kauai’s share would have grown to $16.3 million, Furfaro said.
A request for additional money may be difficult to defend in the 2014 Legislature, Furfaro said. However, operational costs related to the visitor industry are $10 million above what the county receives, and that does not include capital projects, he said.
Land and ocean rescues are among expenses tied to tourism. The Kauai Fire Department says it spent $5.4 million because of visitors, while the Kauai Police Department said it spent $6.3 million serving tourists.
Kauai tourism officials say the industry has rebounded from the nation’s economic problems. Since 2009, visitor arrivals have grown annually at a rate of 5 percent while visitors spending has surged 10 percent, according to the county. During fiscal year 2012, Kauai hosted an average of 21,717 visitors each day. The island’s population was 68,434.
The Kauai County Council discussed, but did not approve, a proposal to ask the state to double the amount of Transient Accommodations Tax money that goes to the counties.