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Maui deserves TAT revenues

By Staff | Jan 14, 2010

Mayor Charmaine Tavares will open West Maui Taxpayers Association’s Annual Meeting tonight with a talk about the importance of transient accommodations tax (TAT) revenues in the county budget.

This tax is imposed on gross rental income derived from the renting of transient accommodations — primarily hotel rooms — in Hawaii.

Tavares and other mayors are concerned because Gov. Linda Lingle has proposed diverting TAT revenues to Hawaii counties for three fiscal years.

This could mean a loss of $60 million to $70 million in Maui County during that span.    

Mayor Tavares last week told state lawmakers that the county uses TAT funds for public safety services, water and sewer infrastructure, roadways, transportation, parks and public facilities that enhance Maui’s prized visitor industry.    

It’s also unfair that Maui’s tourism revenues should be shipped off to Honolulu.

Maui’s reputation as the “Best Island in the World” among travelers certainly includes its resorts. Hotels here in West Maui have upgraded facilities and launched a variety of programs to entertain and educate visitors and enhance their experience here.

Right now, the state is trying to end the “Furlough Fridays” mess that’s hurting education. The traditional free-spending legislature and administration are also facing an estimated budget shortfall of $1.23 billion.

Instead of hurting the counties by diverting TAT, why doesn’t the state consider tax hikes on gasoline, tobacco and alcohol? Would a small general excise tax hike really be a huge burden? 

In this election year, if there ever was a time for leadership in all levels of government, this is it.

Mayor Tavares may need your help to preserve this important county funding. Attend the WMTA meeting today, Thursday, Jan. 14, at 5:30 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center to hear what she has to say.