Suddenly, Fasi Looks Pretty Good

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - March 29, 2006
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Gov. Linda has her in-over-his-head DLNR director who has been killing her administration almost since day one.

Mayor Mufi has his pothole city, dim recycling vision and landfill mess.

The wimpy City Council fears tackling property tax anger head-on and fumbles with the unnecessary Act 12 rather than use its existing power to reset the tax rate.

Can we resurrect Frank Fasi, apologize for burying him prematurely and implore him to get this place moving again?

* Why didn’t the governor fire DLNR chief Peter Young the day he admitted the state never inspected Kauai dams on his watch and failed to respond to initial local and national media requests for information?

* Why does this mayor’s hand seem so shaky, so inexperienced at the helm compared to Fasi and Jeremy Harris - and maybe even Eileen Anderson, the shakiest hand in modern Honolulu history?

* Why doesn’t the City Council use its power to cook up its own budget priorities and set property taxes accordingly?

Answers to the first two elude me. For the other, it’s because hardly any members understand the budget just as most members of Congress don’t understand a president’s budget.

Nope, those we send to do our legislative business prefer the system where the budget is somebody else’s blame and the tax just something they reluctantly have to do because somebody else didn’t do enough trimming.

There are other things the Council could do to even up the property tax issue besides the simplest one of lowering the tax rate and nibbling the budget in order to do that without harm.

The first would be to come up with a variable tax rate for nonresident/resident-owned property and property that has not changed hands for some period, perhaps a minimum of 10 years and a sliding scale thereafter.

The goal should be to tax higher those who are in the property turn-over business and buyers not yet residents of the state.

The first might harm some people selling because of an unforeseen need, but no system obviates every possibility. How do you determine a resident? It’s where you filed a state income tax return last time or claimed residence if that state has no income tax. The year after you file as a Hawaii-taxable resident, you become eligible for the resident property tax rate. If you opt out of local residency or establish a second residency, you’d have to notify the city under heavy penalty for failure to do so.

Most of us who’ve lived long in one house like the idea of a deferred tax rate until we eventually sell. I realize that only works if you’re willing to see a hike in another tax. The money has to come from somewhere.

But it’s a crime for the Council to play dodgeball with us.

Stand up and take control, for cryin’ out loud!

You have to wish more of government would heed that message.

You mean nobody ever thought of dam failure, potholes or raging property assessments?

Sure they did, but Hawaii’s way is to wait for something to happen and then say “Oh, we’d better do something about that.”

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