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Budget committee approves GET extension for rail

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    This is the view of the construction of the rail transit project along Kualakai Parkway near the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center in Kapolei.

1The City Council Budget Committee voted 4-1 today to move out a bill allowing a five-year extension, through 2027, of the controversial 0.5 percent surcharge on the general excise tax to support Honolulu’s rail project.

Bill 23 (2015) now goes to a final vote of the nine-member Council, likely on Jan 27.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who has voted consistently against the current rail project, was the sole no vote. Voting for the extension were remaining Budget Committee members Brandon Elefante, Carol Fukunaga, Joey Manahan and Kymberly Pine.

The draft that passed today, offered by Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Transportation Committee chairman Manahan, allows the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to use about $1.1 billion from the extended period to pay for the $6.57 billion rail project. That’s higher than the $910 million “cap” that was in the previous draft, an amount HART officials had said would not be enough.

The draft includes new wrinkles, however. Additional monies collected from the surcharge “may be expended for” four things: contingency and reserves recommended by the Federal Transit Administration, improvements to aid accessibility to those with disabilities, planning and design of route extension, and “infrastructure improvements to rail station areas to support affordable housing.”

Council leaders said they are checking with state attorneys about the language.

In related news, city Deputy Budget Director Gary Kurokawa said property taxes generally would need to go up 9 percent to help pay for annual operations and management of the rail line.

That’s based on HART’s estimates that operations and maintenance would cost $120 million annually and a 30 percent return at the fare box, Kurokawa said.

Comments (34)

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  • Of course they did, keep moving along folks! We will continue to take your money and provide nothing in return. I did NOT vote for my rep. on the City Council – a leftover from the Ledge!

  • You people who voted yes have no integrity. If you approve this extension, you will approve the next and next and etc. until the tax is permanent because the Rail System is a never ending system.

      • You mean the union works, than I only see standing around instead of working on the rail??? I saw 30 trucks today with 4 people pretending to be working. LOL

    • Look the campaign Monies and where they come from.They are bought and paid for.
      revised the material to reflect recent discoveries. We found that the nefarious Pacific Resource Partnership supported Carol Fukunaga with $86,000 in advertising for her 2012 election. AND under a different name, they gave Brandon Elefante $105,000 in advertising support. With this money, the percentage of Elefante’s support from the Ho’opili and Rail construction community jumped to 91%. Pretty amazing! He sure wasn’t going to vote against them!
      I am not including the 200 pages of Exhibits with this email, since my computer struggles in sending that much, and you already have them attached to the e-mail I sent you on September 8 or 10.
      I know that this is a lot of reading. It is interesting, though, and it really is an education on these issues.

      Here’s The Friends of Makakilo breakdown on City Council campaign contributions:
      Council Member Total Contributions Amount from Hoopili/Rail Interests Percent
      Kymberly Pine $160,879 $116,801 72%
      Ernie Martin $451,240 $268,017 59%
      Ikaika Anderson $139,518 $100,668 72%
      Trevor Ozawa $183,320 $104,550 57%
      Ann Kobayashi $57,136 $24,450 43%
      Carol Fukunaga $258,321 $104,565 40%
      Joey Manahan $182,215 $83,512 46%
      Brandon Elefante $37,322 $24,292 65%
      Ron Menor $48,405 $34,650 72%

  • i don’t care about having a rail, i will never use it anyway but if they just built the damn thing when mufi was in office it would probably be built already instead of waiting 5-6 years before it starts and cost just keep rising. i wonder how much money we would of saved if it was built 5-6 years ago. and I’m paying for something I’m not gonna use… what a waste, i rather pay for roads being fixed…

  • Higher property taxes to pay for this monster? Unreal! I am NOT riding it once it’s built and yet my property taxes are going up to pay for it? Riders should pay for all repair and maintenance. The amount of riders the pro rail experts say will be riding rail should more than pay for it, right?

    • Higher taxes for the O&M was a given. The problem is that HART’s projections are not reasonable. They have projected the fare recovery to be up to 38% when TheBus has been no more than 30% for years. All we need is the costs to be under projected and subsidy to be over projected, and we’ll be looking at much higher taxes or cuts in other services.

      • Property taxes are going to skyrocket to pay for rail. Nine percent is the opening BS salvo. You looking at 30 percent minimum. But like with the cost of rail, they going slowly drip out the info in bits and pieces to make it more palatable for the public, like a bird chewing its food for its baby.
        Rail. You suckas wanted it. You suckas going pay for it. What a freaking waste.

  • The lone “no” voter, Ann Kobayashi, is a person of integrity. Definitely has my respect

    The comment by the budget director of a probable 9% property tax increase to cover O&M does NOT even include the final cost of building rail !! Such insanity !!

  • I doubt that affordable housing will be considered by FTA as part of the project. Besides who wants to live in a multi-story apartment adjacent to the rail line, like large buildings next to the freeway. I ‘m stuck in one of those.

  • IF they must raise taxes to pay for this debacle, it may as well be the GE tax, so that EVERYONE gets ripped off, not just the property owners. All you idiots that voted for Caldwell because your union told you to, you deserve all this and more. Whop your jaws.

    • The problem is that it is not fair to commissioned workers and service providers…..these people have to collect GET from the customer and then have to declare that as income!!! So we pay more than salaried employees! You need to study the Tax law a little better.

      • Yes, the GET is based on gross receipts, but it is not a sales tax that is collected from customers. The business or service provider is allowed to pass the tax on but is not required to.

  • When Deputy Budget Director Gary Kurokawa’s said a 9% increase in property taxes would be needed to make up the 70% subsidy of 90 million per year subsidy to maintain rail, it is dead on arrival. Not going to happen.

    With an estimated 30% recoup rate for Nei rail, it is way too inefficient. Either there are too many overly paid union employees featherbedding operation or no one with any rail experience is in charge.

    By design, the cost of Nei rail’s yearly O&M is way too excessive/inefficient at $120 million. The estimated 30% recoup rate is basically half what the San Diego trolley has at 57%. This means the SDT is lean and efficient. Nei rail is obese, filled with inefficiencies dumped on taxpayers.

    HART has to justify why it will cost $10 million a month for the O&M on a single line, 20 mile rail system. Let HART post an itemized account of how many people will work for rail, every cost of monthly operations.

    San Diego Trolley has 54.3 miles of track and 53 stations. Only the main station downtown is staffed during operations. Majority of stations are ground level All stations have self service ticket machines.

    Yes. A new money pit added to the backs of Nei taxpayers. Exactly why are children and grandchildren who will be stuck with $120 million of crushing yearly costs, constantly climbing, will move to the mainland for a more economical and higher quality of life.

    Farebox recovery ratio for 17 light rail lines –

  • Is there ANY person out there qualified and intelligent enough to be our Mayor who realizes the s t u p i d i t y of rail and who will run in the next election? I’m not savvy enough, but there must be someone. I will vote for you! I will campaign for you! We need to stop this train in its tracks – literally! I used to think that rail might be a good thing for Oahu, but I have seen in the past year how deceitful and mismanaged this entire project has been. Many locals are moving to the mainland because our cost of living keeps rising and, frankly, I’m beginning to think that all of the wealthy people WANT that to happen. They want this island and this state to be a place just for “their kind” and to have any leftover locals be the ones serving them and doing their menial tasks. PLEASE, someone who can stop this rail project, RUN FOR MAYOR!

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