This Thursday, May 2: County of Maui Real Property Tax Rate Public Hearing

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The Maui County Council will meet this Thursday, May 2, at 6pm regarding real property tax rates for Maui County’s fiscal year of July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. While the meeting (which is nicely scheduled in the evening so working people can attend) marks the last of the county’s scheduled budget sessions, it should be the most important.

On April 30, The Maui News reported on a budget conflict set to come to a head at the hearing. According to the article, Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White wants to cut the Mayor’s proposed budget by $23 million by keeping all property tax rates in the county at current levels.

The proposed cut would eliminate funding for proposed county positions, equipment and supplies. These new positions are seen by some as vital to the county, and include four systems analyst positions, six positions at the Fire and Public Safety Department and six service representative positions for the Department of Finance.

“The reason for reducing the budget is that we need to look at who is paying the bill… I don’t feel it is appropriate at this time… to add a greater and greater amount of taxation on the businesses that are funding all of the benefits and wages for their employees and supplying all various other businesses in the county with additional purchases and things,” said White in The Maui News article.

This is not a surprising position for White, a longtime and key player in Maui’s business community, to take. After all, he–a former Maui Visitors Bureau board member who is still very active with that organization–has long supported increasing the millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars the county steers to them each year.

But when asked by The Maui News if his position as general manager at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel had anything to do with his position, White responded “Absolutely not.”

Other council members, like Mike Victorino and Gladys Baisa (who called White’s plan “too draconian” in this May 1 Maui News story) expressed concern with White’s proposed budget, but  Mayor Alan Arakawa office declined comment.

“It’s up to the members to decide what they think of Mike’s proposal because they’ve got to vote on it,” the mayor’s spokesman Rod Antone said in the April 30 article.

It should all come to a head at Thursday’s meeting, which will be held at the Kalana O Maui Building on 200 South High Street in the Council Chamber on the 8th floor.

The notice of public hearing can be found at Co.maui.hi.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/17828 and information on the council can be found online at Co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=66

Photo of Mike White: County of Maui website