VIDEO: Tavares Issues Challenge on TAT in her State of the County Address

By Wendy Osher

In her fourth State Of The County Address today, Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares challenged the state administration and the Legislature to examine other sources of revenue before cutting the counties share of income from the hotel room tax.

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares, State of the County 2010. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“Taking away the TAT revenue from the counties breaks a promise and shifts the tax burden for these costs from the visitors to local residents,” said Tavares.

Tavares said, without the Transient Accommodation Tax revenues, the county’s shortfall will rise from $50 million to $70 million.  Fellow Mayor Mufi Hannemann agreed with Tavares saying the counties at the end of the day are the key to the visitor industry.

“You can do all the marketing in the world.  But if people don’t feel that it’s safe to visit Maui, the Big Island, Kauai and Honolulu, they will not come.  That’s what we do: we’re the home of the first responder, we fix the infrastructure, we maintain the parks, we’re there 24-7.  So that’s a very important message that was said today,” said Hannemann.

In addressing the county’s economic climate, Tavares said she wants no part of the layoffs seen at the state level.  She said the options are simple:  a combination of raising revenues and cutting spending.

“In my mind, we must have a combination of those choices—reduce services and raise revenues—to find a balance that will enable us to keep our community strong,” said Tavares.

Looking ahead to the future Tavares said, the county’s “quest for energy independence through renewable energy resource development is one of the most important programs our county can pursue to ensure success in the future.”

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