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City budget committee cans $10 monthly trash pickup fee

A bill creating a $10-a-month fee for residential curbside pickup was deferred indefinitely by the City Council Budget Committee today.

All Council members sitting in on the meeting voiced concerns before the vote about Bill 29, instituting a curbside pickup fee estimated to net the city about $20 million annually.

After the vote, Council Budget Chairman Joey Manahan said it’s not likely the trash fee proposal will advance any further this year given the strong reservations of Council members.

He noted that a proposal to raise the per-gallon “fuel tax” would also not move any further. That measure, Bill 11, was deferred at last month’s committee meeting.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson noted that trash pickup traditionally has been paid for out of general city funds as a basic service. If Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration, which proposed the fee, believes additional money is needed to provide basic services it should ask for an increase in tax rates, Anderson said. But the administration should do so only after outlining specifically where the additional funds would go, Anderson said.

A handful of Oahu residents also testified against the trash pickup fee.

Kapolei resident Rich Levine said property taxes should pay for essential services, and that instituting a curbside trash fee was a “slippery slope” that could lead to fees for police or fire service.

Manahan said after the meeting that he agrees with Anderson that raising property tax rates would be preferable to hiking fees.

The committee did move out Bill 10, increasing the city’s motor vehicle weight tax; Bill 12, increasing parking meter rates in Waikiki; Bill 35, increasing non-resident admission to Honolulu Zoo; and Bill 36, increasing golf course fees on non-residents only.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect number for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s 2018 operating budget.

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