Caldwell’s proposed operating budget also moved forward. Adoption of the final budget will likely occur in late June.
Council members Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi, Ernie Martin and Trevor Ozawa all voted against proposed increases to the vehicle weight tax and parking meter fees, but the measures passed.
It was the same story for increases in admission fees for the Honolulu Zoo and green fees for municipal golf courses, as well as Bill 28, which would increase fees for TheBus and TheHandi-Van.
Paratransit riders, some blind or otherwise disabled, and some members of Citizens for a Fair ADA Ride testified against Bill 28. If it gains final approval, it would increase the $2-per-trip fee for TheHandi-Van by 50 cents per year until it reaches $4.
“A lot of Handi-Van riders are on a fixed income,” Lori Tanigawa testified.
Councilwoman Kymberly Pine suggested the council come up with a tiered system to charge Handi-Van users according to their income.
Martin said he wants to make The Handi-Van service fully subsidized. It’s currently 95 percent subsidized, according to Wes Frysztacki, director of the Department of Transportation Services.
The bill would increase fares for TheBus from $60 for a monthly pass to $80 by 2019. The cost of a single ride would increase from $2.50 to $3.25.
Windward Oahu resident Casey Connors recommended the city evaluate bus routes to increase efficiency and advertise TheBus to tourists to increase ridership.
Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, recommended the city tax transient accommodations, including Airbnb units, rather than hotels to generate revenue. Egged estimated there are at least 4,000 units in Waikiki and 4,000-6,000 more throughout the island.
The resolution passed the council on a 6-3 vote after Ozawa and Martin cited concerns about the welfare of the tourism industry.
“I’m not just voting no to vote no. I’ve proposed a number of cuts to the operating budget,” Ozawa said. “I’m unable to go forward with increases if my decreases are not considered.”
Ozawa and Martin both proposed a slew of cuts to this year’s proposed executive operating budget, but the Budget Committee deferred almost all of them at an April 11 meeting.