New Mayor, New County Budget Priorities, Higher Taxes!

May 25, 2017
6pm   -   8pm
West Hawai'i Civic Center, Council Chambers


“Great moderating trying to get presenters to focus on the topic and asking tough questions.” —

“The County Presenters should have been more prepared.” —

“Departments heads did not answer the question as to what possible cuts in for departments”–

“Too little about budget.  Too much about what we do.”  — “

” Thank you to Mayor Kim and all the directors for their time and ideas shared here tonight.” —


Candidate Kim in 2016 ran on a platform of no new taxes, but the new Mayor’s budget calls for across-the-board property tax rate increases and a vehicle fuel tax increase.

Hawai’i County property owners and motorists will face higher taxes this year, as a revised budget released May 5th from Mayor Harry Kim’s office call for $491.2 million spending plan increase.  The nearly one half billion dollar County budget calls for a 6.1 percent increase over the current budget, and with the rate of inflation running at only 2.4% (as March 2017) other factors were at play in creating the new operating budget.

For the Mayor, his best laid political promises ran aground in face of a 4 percent increase in government employee salaries, negotiated statewide, and a $2 million cut in the transient accommodations tax – a revenue source allocated back to the County by the state and representing the county’s second-highest source of revenue, the TAT, or so called “hotel tax”.

Updated: For Hawai’i Island home owners, this will be the third increase since fiscal year 2010-11, many of whom have faced successive annual property taxes increases through valuation increases.  The proposed tax hikes in the Mayor’s 2017-18 budget follow an unwelcome 30.7 percent rise in property tax increases since FY 2008-09 (a combination of higher tax rates and higher property assessments). From the great recession of 2009, until only recently in which depressed property values began to restore their former value, property tax revenue increases for County homeowners and other taxable properties have climbed from $232.2 million in 2009 to a projected $303.6 million in 2018.

With gas and diesel fuel prices at historic lows following a long term trend, a vehicle fuel tax increase may have less an impact on driver pocketbooks than in their property tax bills.  The budget calls for an increase in the gas tax later this year, a rise from 8.8 cents a gallon to 19 cents.

On May 25th, Mayor Harry Kim and members of his cabinet will explain to West Hawaii residents and businesses his administration’s budget, proposed tax increases, their priorities and plans for the fiscal year of 2018.

Below is a summary of Mayor Kim’s FY 2018 original budget proposal to the County Council, dated March 1, 2017.  The Mayor must still now reconcile his budget priorities with those of the Council in order to finalize the forthcoming County budget and spending priorities for Hawai’i County.

Kim budget-1Kim budget-2Property Tax Map by District

This forum took place on May 25, 2017, at 6pm at West Hawai'i Civic Center, Council Chambers.

To learn more about each Forum featured speaker, click onto the presenter's name listed below their picture.

This event was moderated by:

Sherry Bracken
Hawaii Public Radio & New West Broadcasting

The event's featured speakers were:

Frank DeMarco
Director of Public Works, Hawai'i County
Charmaine Kamaka
Director of Parks and Recreation, Hawaii County
Mayor Harry Kim
Mayor of Hawai'i County
Collins Tomei
Director of Finance, Hawaii County
Deanna Sako
Department of Finance
Michael Yee
Director of Planning, Hawai'i County

Speaker Presentation Materials

The presenters have graciously allowed us to post their presentation notes.

Subject Support Materials

Please see support material for this subject Forum.

Forum Session Video

View the recorded session here: