Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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April 15, 2009 - MidWeek
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City taxes are up

In his recent letter, Deputy Director Mark Oto of the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services took me to task for pointing out the mayor’s across-the-board increases in rates and fees - obviously a subject that makes Mr. Oto uncomfortable. So he tried to change the subject on residential property taxes by pointing out that the mayor reduced the residential property tax rate. (I’ll not bother to address here what the mayor did to commercial real property tax rates. Take a guess.)

I admire Mr. Oto’s tenacity. He does stick to his story, hoping we all won’t notice that the actual property taxes we pay have soared under Mayor Hannemann. The tweaking downward of residential tax rates by the mayor was absolutely swamped by the increase in assessed property values. I urge readers to go to honolulupropertytax.com and look up the actual taxes you paid on your residential property, year by year, under Mayor Hannemann.

Then maybe you’ll have the answer the next time Mr. Oto asks, “Who are you going to believe? Mayor Hannemann or your own lying checkbook?”

Robert R. Kessler


Sleight of hand

He’s an employee of Mayor Hannemann, so I expected Mark K. Oto, city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, to defend his boss. But his personal attacks on a tax-paying citizen and his arrogant response is beyond acceptable behavior.

After unnecessary name calling of respected Robert Kessler, Oto defends the mayor’s highest property taxes in the history of the city and county by stating, “The mayor does not control the ... value of individual properties,” and since the mayor has taken office in 2005 (he reduced) “the rate to $3.29 today - 46 cents lower per $1,000 of value.”

If Oto is telling us that our property taxes are lower than in 2005, he needs to go back to accounting school. It is sleight of hand to reduce the rate when values are rising by double digits as they had been until 2008. While pretending to reduce property taxes, you are only reducing the multiplier and still taking in more tax paid for by already over-burdened citizens.

The fact is that no matter how you slice it, since 2005 when Mayor Hannemann took office, we are paying higher property taxes. And to make this increase even more frustrating, as property values have gone down substantially since 2008, the mayor is proposing to increase the rate to $3.59, a 30-cent increase in one year. So instead of the break in property taxes we need to maintain our homes, the mayor takes away the expected tax cut.

If Mr. Oto is the kind of expert in the Budget and Fiscal Services he claims to be, we are all in big

Garry P. Smith
Ewa Beach

Seniors and rail

We of Pohulani affordable senior apartments on Queen Street, nearly 300 tenants, want to express our opposition to the request of moving the rail from Halekauwila Street to Queen Street, directly in front of our state-owned-and-operated senior housing, without one ounce of consideration for how extremely disruptive this will be to our quality of life as well as our health and welfare. Most of the seniors who live in Pohulani have some type of aging health issues and various illnesses - from dialysis to chronic lung diseases, cancer to heart disease, with many in wheelchairs or using walkers and canes.

All of us need a peaceful home environment. The continuos noise, dust, dirt and disruption of our daily life with the work to be done, perhaps even some night work, would be extremely distressing to contend with and would take away a quality of life we now enjoy in our golden years.

We have just had nearly three years of disruption with the building of Keola Lai condos across the street, which was very difficult to tolerate and caused many additional health issues. So we sincerely ask that Judge Helen Gillmor reconsider her ruling.

Lois Bunin
Helka Esterbrook


Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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