comscore Mayor signs 5-year extension of tax surcharge for rail project | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Mayor signs 5-year extension of tax surcharge for rail project


    Mayor Kirk Caldwell spoke at a press conference last year. Caldwell today signed Bill 23 (2015), clearing the way for the contentious 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge to be extended through 2027.


    Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the general excise tax surcharge extension at the Mayor’s Office in Honolulu Hale today.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell today signed Bill 23 (2015), clearing the way for the contentious 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge to be extended through 2027.

The City Council approved the bill 7-2 Wednesday after months of deliberating and hand-wringing. The extention is expected to bring in between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion.

Supporters said the additional five years beyond the 2022 expiration previously approved was needed to meet rising costs caused by various delays and overruns of a project that has had its estimated price tag rise to $6.57 billion from $5.26 billion in about a year.

“Rail is absolutely worth fighting for in my mind,” Caldwell said, describing the project as an investment in the future.

The extention was criticized by opponents, who said it gives the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transportation a blank check to continue runaway spending at the expense of taxpayers.

HART is allowed to use up to $1.1 billion from the extended period to pay for the 20-mile, 21-stop line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, but the bill lets the project tap further from the funding for contingency. The extended surcharge period is expected to bring in between $1.2 bilion and $1.8 billion, depending on economic factors.

The measure also includes additional reporting requirements on the financial and management steps by HART to the Council.

The state Legislature gave the OK for the extension last spring, and the Council subsequently held eight full Council committee hearings before Wednesday’s final approval.

Comments (43)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

  • This is a sad day in Hawaii. Outer islanders, I hope you are all paying attention. Anyone that thinks this is only a county issue, had better start reading between the lines. This fiasco will eventually bankrupt the state too.

    • The other counties should pay the excise tax surcharge too, since this is also their State! Are we going to charge neighbor islanders and State employees a higher fare. The State is already stealing a significant portion of the excise tax surcharge.

      • Neighbor islanders pay too. Nearly everything they buy on the neighbor island is handled by an Oahu company, which pays Oahu excise tax, which gets passed to the customer on the neighbor island.

        • You do realize that more excise tax is collected on Oahu than spent on Oahu? Oahu has been subsidizing the neighbor islands from the beginning. I’m not necessarily complaining but the truth should be known.

        • Actually, that’s not right at all. Sales off-island are not taxable for surcharge purposes, just as sales out of state are not taxable for GET purposes.

      • Neighbor islands pay indirectly. If what they buy involves an Oahu company in any way, that company passes its higher costs to the neighbor island customer.

      • People complaining on the Josh Pacheco show about problems getting to and parking at Aloha Stadium for Pro Bowl. One person arrived at the jammed up off ramp to the stadium at 9:30 and didn’t get parked until 12:30. Then stood in a long line at the gates and didn’t get to his seat until 2:30 missing part of the first quarter after game started at 2:00. He was very upset. If we had rail now, thousands of people could have gone to and from the game on time with no hassle. But naysayers don’t want to see how we can benefit from rail in many ways as other cities. That’s why we suffer a lot here and things don’t get done without delay by opposition. We need to have better foresight that rail is essential here.

        • Ukuleleblue wrote: “Then stood in a long line at the gates and didn’t get to his seat until 2:30 missing part of the first quarter after game started at 2:00. He was very upset. If we had rail now, thousands of people could have gone to and from the game on time with no hassle.”

          Wow, even you’re not reading what you write any more. How would riding the train help with the two hour wait to get inside the stadium?

          Of all the silly, boneheaded things you’ve written, “the train might make getting to the pro bowl easier” is the silliest. Is the Pro Bowl,going to be in Hawaii next year? Let’s tax everyone’s food medicine, rent, clothing, and shoes just in case!

          So, by mentioning the radio show, that might imply you are actually in Hawaii instead of listening to it on the Internet. So tell us, where on the mainland do you really live and what is your connection to this mess of a rail project?

        • Then your friend should be upset at the construction of rail. Because of it, the contractor has the Halawa lot closed off. A parking lot that can accommodate nearly 800 vehicles, along with the closing of lanes on Kam highway just added to the fustration to those wanting to attend the pro bowl.

        • Uku – For once why don’t you tell the truth and admit you made the story up. You called in to the Pacheco show and pretended you were an angry Pro Bowl ticket holder. It does not take two hours to enter the stadium and you know it. Multiple entrance gates, lines moving. So how much did Grabby, your step dad, pay you for this line of utter shibai? $5? We can see right through you.

          What you also failed to mention again is on the weekend city bus service is greatly reduced. Unless extra busses are put on the streets, will take a long time to get from your home to a rail station. Remember, stations will have little to no free parking.

          Also forgot thanks to the 9% increase in property tax with yearly increases to fund rail’s crushing yearly O&M costs, residents will have little extra money to spend.

          Our children and grandchildren will flee the Nei thanks to all the increases in rail subsidies, other taxes to support all the Nei’s money pits.

        • Last year I took the LINK light rail from a hotel near the Seattle airport to a Mariners game at Safeco Field which was much easier than driving and parking the rental car. Thousands of smart people routinely take the rail to and from the game which is very fast and convenient. This is the type of no hassle service that our rail will provide to Aloha Stadium. If we had rail now, thousands of people going to the Pro Bowl would not have been frustrated and angry.

        • So you went to see a baseball game, big deal. Next time try attend a football game and see how the staff up there handle things. Unlike here, the staff at mainland stadiums know how to get people in and about quickly.

      • Yes, what has the state done with their share of the COUNTY rail tax? We’re talking $100 million and counting. Is the media afraid to ask the question? It sure seems that way.

        • Honestly, it doesn’t matter what the state does with it. The city willingly gave the money so it didn’t have to collect the tax.

    • agree..Caldwell was certainly part of the leadership cabal that never told the public the truth about actual, costs to build and to operate the outdated, incorrectly routed system.

      • Right, the only way Honolulu can protest this action is to vote Caldwell out, so he serves as an example of what people think of our existing politicians who have sold our keiki’s dreams to heavy tax burdens in the generations to come, and I don’t mean only the excise tax increases but the the maintenance of the rail and the future property tax increases to pay for this white elephant.

    • This tax increase will be made permanent after the Mayor and Governor secure re-election. At least that’s the plan. The special interests that fund the democratic party have ordered this tax increase, the politicians are only doing as they are told to do by PRP and the developers. The rail is going to cost at least 10 billion, and they all know it.

    • “We” all had the chance to make a well thought out, educated, correct choice in the last election, but no; “we” chose this guy. If Cayetano got in, I am pretty sure he would have slammed on the brakes to this black hole. “We” got what we paid for, and will continue to pay for generations to come.

  • Well, I guess it’s five more years of me shopping at the military’s tax free, PX and commissary and no sales taxing with the e-online, commence.

  • Anyone who believes that this tax will go away in five years is dreaming. Remember, last week there was an article that indicated a significant increase (9.5%) in Oahu property taxes, that some people felt was insufficient. This is a great illustration of politics. Politicians get out in front with the least painful message, knowing that it’s BS, but also knowing that they’ll be gone before it returns as an issue (i.e. kick the can down the road).

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up