HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Island County Council voted on a resolution that proposed to reduce the county fuel tax by 10 cents, but some county officials said those cents can add up and possibly cut the budget used for road repairs.
Once again, Hawaii’s gas prices hit a new high, Wednesday’s average fuel prices hit $5.27 according to AAA Hawaii.
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Hawaii Island County Councilmember Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder said residents are in need of relief, he introduced a resolution to cut the county’s fuel tax from 23 cents to 13 cents a gallon.
“We have people who rely on going to Kona or to Hilo from the other side of the island,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said. “That’s a 200-mile round trip. And the cost for them, it’s extraordinary.”
The 10-cent gas tax reduction would sunset after roughly eight months. Drivers like Mat Dascoli said any type of savings will be helpful at this time.
Dascoli said, “The amount of money that we’ve been spending on taxes for the last two years, I think some type of relief is necessary, at least something.”
Kanealii-Kleinfelder said drivers could save up about $200 on gas over time. But the resolution was met with opposition. The Department of Public Works Director Steven Ikaika Rodenhurst said part of that tax is used to fund the county’s road repair projects. He said at least $5.5 million could be cut from their budget.
Rodenhurst said, “whatever the decision is, we’ll make the adjustments necessary. But it does impact our ability to expand, to increase our capacity and meet the needs of these roads to meet the needs of the community.”
The final vote was tied, four to four with one absent. The resolution failed to pass, but councilmember Kanealii-Kleinfelder hopes this type of proposal can get elected officials to think outside the box.
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“It’s every government official’s responsibility to review the programs in their County’s budget and decide what’s best for their residents based on those numbers,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we did today. And unfortunately, the council couldn’t see that.”