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Kenoi responds to plan to take counties’ share of the TAT


Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi released the following statement today in response to Governor Linda Lingle’s bid to balance the state budget by stripping the counties of their fair share of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT).

“I would have hoped that as a former Maui mayor, Governor Lingle would understand that taking resources from the counties does not solve the problem,” said Mayor Kenoi. “The counties rely on the transient accommodations tax to balance their budgets, and for the state to take away that source of funding puts pressure on the counties to raise taxes at the county level.

“The counties help pay for essential services for visitors, and the counties were given a share of the TAT or hotel room tax in recognition of that county contribution to the tourism industry, so the governor’s proposal is extremely short-sighted.

“The bottom line is that the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) not a gift or a grant-in-aid. The TAT is the County’s fair share of the revenue from the taxes collected by our hotels to pay for the impact of tourism on our island.

“Our County provides and maintains police, fire, lifeguards, parks, water and many other services that our visitors enjoy. We provide these services as part of our agreement with the state that gives us something in return to help our residents pay for these services.

“The TAT is our county’s second largest source of revenue and removing it will put a tremendous burden on the backs of our residents.

“Tourism is our lifeline in Hawai‘i and we cannot refuse to provide this services for our visitors. On any given day about 25,000 visitors are on our island utilizing the services that we provide.

“My administration will fight this proposal in the state Legislature and do what we can to insure that our County will continue to get its fair share of the TAT so that our residents our not being asked to accept an unfair burden to balance the state budget.”

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