Oahu residents worried about Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal to make them start paying for trash collection can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee deferred Bill 10 on Wednesday. The bill would establish a $10 monthly fee for the city’s semiweekly trash collection service, which is currently free.
Under the bill, if a household didn’t pay the fee, the city would not collect its trash, recyclables and yard debris.
“Just the general concept of charging for trash pickup,” Councilman Joey Manahan said, “it’s going to take a lot more discussion for people to be able to accept it.”
The city uses property tax revenue to pay for the collection services.
Some Honolulu residents, including condominium owners, have to pay private contractors for trash collection. People who already pay a private hauler wouldn’t have to pay the fee under the bill.
Caldwell administration officials argued Wednesday that Honolulu taxpayers who pay for a private trash service bear an undue burden.
“It’s really for equity,” said Lori Kahikina the city’s Director of Environmental Services. “Everyone pays property taxes but only certain residences are getting our services.”
Councilman Ikaika Anderson disagreed.
He asked the council to consider raising property taxes instead of creating an additional fee, saying that would be “more justifiable and more honest.”
He also voiced concerns about potential trash pile-ups at residences whose occupants don’t pay the fee.
Kapolei resident Richard Levine, expressed concern that other city services, such as the police and fire departments and the parks, could start charging for their services. Anderson later echoed that concern.
Honolulu residents might be tempted to haul their trash to one of nine city-run dumps around the island. While using the dumps is currently free, residents who don’t pay the fee would have to pay to use the city dumps under the bill.
Other Caldwell proposals to increase taxes and fees on vehicle weight, parking meters, the bus system, zoo admission and golf courses were all approved by the Budget Committee. Next the bills go to second readings at the full council meeting April 26.
Another contentious revenue-generating bill was resurrected after being deferred for more than a year. It passed through the committee Wednesday and will now go to the full council meeting for its third reading.
Bill 78, originally proposed in 2015, would create a program allowing organizations and individuals to sponsor certain city facilities. The city would create signs to acknowledge the money received.
The bill generated over an hour of discussion from supporters and opponents.
Supporters argued that the money is needed to help city parks.
Opponents said it would lead to commercialization and threaten the state’s law prohibiting billboards. Hawaii is one of four states prohibiting billboards.
“We’re the envy of the entire nation with our signage laws,” said Winston Welch of the Outdoor Circle environmental organization. “We need a respite from commercialization.”
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