KAILUA-KONA >> Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is pushing the County Council to approve a half-cent general excise tax, saying the revenue would be double what officials initially calculated.
Kim announced last week that more a precise calculation showed the surcharge would bring in $50 million annually, instead of the $25 million previously projected, West Hawaii Today reported.
“I consider this a gift to the people of Hawaii island,” he said. “It’s a tremendous gift to help us catch up.”
The island’s current budget proposal of $515.7 million allows only the bare minimum for maintenance of existing roads, parks and other projects, Kim said. The budget does not call for any new property taxes, and the state collects all the revenue from current general excise taxes.
The council in February postponed action on the tax increase to no later than May.
Despite seeking more resources for her district, Councilwoman Jen Ruggles said she is against the tax increase.
“Taking care of our private roads is long overdue, however, this tax is still regressive, still taxes food and medicine and still hurts those (who) can least afford it,” she said.