Tavares on TAT: “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel”
By Wendy Osher
The state legislature did not vote before Friday’s deadline on a proposal to take the county’s share of the Transient accommodation tax or TAT. Now it’s a wait and see situation as county mayors across the state monitor the latest developments.
“We’re not out of the woods quite yet,” said Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares.
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We just hope it’s not a train coming at us,” said Mayor Tavares who spent three days at the state Capitol last week lobbying for Maui’s $17.5 million share of the hotel room tax.
“The only thing that we have to worry about now is whether or not both houses will pass it (that’s one)… and (secondly) if the Governor will sign that law. or will she veto it. If she vetoes that budget bill, the legislature then has to decide whether they will have a special session to override the veto,” said Mayor Tavares.
County mayors fought to save the funds to avoid additional increases for property tax. Earlier this year, Tavares argued that taking away the TAT would shift the tax burden for the costs from the visitors to local residents.
The governor had planned to use the money to help balance the state budget, and a projected deficit in excess of $1.2 billion.
Tavares said the bill was one of four that were House Speaker Calvin Say said was dead for this session. So if no further action is taken this week, Tavares said, “…that means that it’s status quo. We get the TAT just like normal.”
“I put $17.5 million in the budget for TAT, and without that, the council would have quite a job trying to balance the budget… that would be really, really difficult,” said Tavares.
“We just have to wait and see what happens,” said Tavares.