Bill 22 (2023): Mandatory public hearings for assessment hikes could fend off ‘marginal’ spending

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Honolulu City and County Council on April 19, 2023.

April 19, 2023
10 a.m.
Honolulu City Council Chambers

To: Honolulu City and County Council
      Councilmember Tommy Waters, Chair
      Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina, Vice Chair

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
           Ted Kefalas, Director of Strategic Campaigns


Comments Only

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on Bill 22 (2023), which would mandate “Truth in Taxation” hearings whenever the assessed values of a property class increase by 5% or more in a Council district.

The Institute believes Bill 22, if enacted into law, would provide greater transparency and promote accountability in Honolulu’s real property tax system.

According to the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, a land policy research group, Truth in Taxation public hearings “promote voter engagement in debate on the appropriate level for property tax rates and help elected officials gauge the electorate’s views on tax burdens and service needs.

“The resulting publicity, accountability and transparency can themselves serve to discourage marginal additional spending that might otherwise follow a ‘silent’ tax increase.”[1]

If this Truth in Taxation measure is adopted for Oahu, the 5% figure perhaps should be increased slightly since the gross assessed property values on the island have increased annually by an average of 5.45% since fiscal year 2013. If the figure is not increased, these hearings would become an annual ritual simply because of the standard change in assessed values.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


Ted Kefalas
Director of Strategic Campaigns
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] Adam Langley and Joan Youngman, “Property Tax Relief for Homeowners,” Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, November 2021, p. 33.

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