6 Sep 2017

Concerns in Honolulu over mounting tax for rail project

5:50 am on 6 September 2017

There are concerns taxpayers in Honolulu will end up having to pay more money for the city's embattled rapid transit rail project.

Honolulu, capital of US state of Hawaii.

Honolulu, capital of US state of Hawaii. Photo: Cain Nunns

Hawaii lawmakers held a special legislative session last week to vote to fund a projected US$3 billion shortfall to build the railway to its final destination of Ala Moana.

The bill would raise $US1.3 billion by a one percent lift in the hotel room tax and a further one billion would come from an extension to the general excise tax or GET.

The 0.5 percent surcharge would be extended for a further three years to 2030.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) is tasked with building the system and costs have ballooned to almost US$10 billion.

The mayor of Honolulu Kirk Caldwell said while he appreciated being able to secure some funds, worries remained.

"In talking with HART, they seem to feel that with the funds provided with this legislation it allows them to build rail all the way down to Ala Moana and that is something we all want and I fought for rail for years and I'm glad to see that we are getting the funding to do that," said Mr Caldwell.

"But what is different than ever before is that part of that funding is now being placed on taxpayers in Honolulu in addition to paying the GET.

"All of us have been paying it for ten years and now we are going to be paying it until 2030."