Mayors fight for TAT revenues before state lawmakers
WAILUKU — Mayor Charmaine Tavares last week Wednesday joined Hawaii’s three other mayors in an appearance before members of the State House Finance Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The Hawaii Council of Mayors (HCOM) offered written testimony identifying proposals that the HCOM has designated as priorities.
The testimony also expressed a unified opposition to the proposal to take away the counties’ share of transient accommodations tax (TAT) revenue.
Each mayor also provided remarks at the joint hearing held at the State Capitol.
In her remarks before the senators and representatives, Mayor Tavares highlighted the vital need of TAT to the county’s operating budget and called for a partnership approach between the counties and state.
The testimony of Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. of Kauai County, Mufi Hannemann of the City and County of Honolulu, Billy Kenoi of Hawaii County and Tavares notes, “The Hawaii Council of Mayors has been actively engaged in identifying common public policy goals, exchanging ideas and collaborating on solutions to the challenges facing
“Over the course of the past year, we have worked on county-specific initiatives and spoken as a united voice on matters of concern. In this regard, we have been grateful for the past support of the members of the Legislature and look forward to working with you to contribute to the greater good of all the people of Hawaii… We recognize the state’s fiscal challenges, and we face many of our own at the county level.
“In this regard, the state administration and certain legislators have proposed taking away the counties’ share of the transient accommodations tax revenue.
“The mayors are united in our opposition to this proposal. The county governments maintain the public safety services, water and sewer infrastructure, roads, transportation, parks and public facilities that support and benefit the visitor industry.
“Reductions in funding would have a direct impact on the very industry that generates the hotel room tax revenues. We might also note that those revenues partially fund our police departments, whose officers issue the traffic citations that generate millions of dollars in revenue for the state’s coffers.
“We also will be seeking your support for legislation specific to our respective jurisdictions. However, these proposals form the legislative package of the Hawaii Council of Mayors. We look forward to collaborating with you on solutions to the challenges that we all face as public officials.”