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A few hours after The Honolulu Advertiser reported that tax collection for the rail project is falling short, the city issued a press release that said revenues were holding steady at 99.6 percent as of April.
The rail financial plan from August 2009 anticipated $501.5 million would be collected by April. Instead, the city has received $499.3 million through the 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge dedicated to rail construction and operation.
The city’s financial plan anticipated tax revenue would dip slightly this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The city’s projections call for economic recovery in the next fiscal year under a model that shows revenue growth every year through 2022.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann put an optimistic spin on the project finances. “GET revenues are on track despite the state of the economy, and we have saved $90 million in construction costs for the first rail contract. We could realize additional savings on three major rail contracts that will be awarded later this year.”
GET tax receipts are critical for the project at this stage. The city needs to prove to the Federal Transit Administration that it can pay for its share of the project — about $3.5 billion — in order to qualify for $1.55 billion in federal funds. In addition, Gov. Linda Lingle has called for a thorough review of the project’s financial plan before she signs off on the final Environmental Impact Statement.