Last night I spoke before the Maui County Council at the Civic Center in Lahaina regarding the proposed property tax increase for timeshare owners on Maui. I was not alone in my efforts to persuade the Council not to increase the property tax. There were about 30 people in the room who were against the proposed tax increase on Maui timeshares. This included many employees from Westin Ka anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Gregg Lundberg( former General Manger for Westin Ka anapali Ocean Resort Villas and Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas North), Angela Nolan( current General Manager for Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and Westin Ka anapali Ocean Resort Villas North). There were also a few owners from the Westin properties. There were a few business owners who provide services to the Westin timeshares, one was an owner of a company that has the landscaping contract with Westin Ka anapali , another was an owner of a tourist activities company which employs over 250 people. There were three employees from Kaanapali Beach Club (Diamond Resorts), and one from Marriott Maui Ocean Club, one from Kahana Falls and, of course, myself representing my clients, who don’t have a voice, and also as a concerned local businessman.
The Westin group was very impressive. Their presentation was good; they spoke with passion on how the impact of higher taxes could affect their employment. The Westin managers spoke of the amount of dollars Westin timeshare owners pay in taxes, how many people Westin employs. There were several employees who spoke of how they continued to be employed by timeshare companies even during the economic downturn on Maui while some of their family members lost their jobs and houses. Westin/Starwood also spoke of their involvement in the betterment of this community by donating to The Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Maui Food Bank to name a few.
Nearly half the people who spoke at this hearing were timeshare tax related. I was glad to see such a big turnout opposed to the timeshare tax increase. The last County Council meeting I went to Gregg Lundberg and I were the only people in the timeshare industry who spoke to the Council regarding the repercussions of another property tax hike.
I testified as a real estate broker and a businessman concerned about the impact the tax increase will have on Maui. I said one of two things will happen if taxes were raised. The default on timeshares will increase and consequently there will be more foreclosures, which could cause layoffs of employees. Those who would pay the higher fees would spend less in restaurants, shops and activities which would affect the livelihood of the local businesses. I also said the notion of timeshare owner’s not spending money while they are here is not true. Timeshare owners spend money as soon as they arrive. They rent a car, they buy food, and they don’t sit in their rooms. Timeshare owners are the most loyal customers we have on our island and are a vital component to our economy. I urged them to consider the impact of the higher taxes will have on our community.
I was asked if I would consider paying more in personal property taxes as opposed to an increase in timeshare property taxes. I said I know what I pay in taxes doesn’t cover the basic services I get as a resident and , yes, I would pay more in taxes, since I can afford it, and for the betterment of our community.
It is imperative if you own a timeshare on Maui you write your County Council and voice your opinion.
Alan M. Arakawa, Mayor Mayors.Office@co.maui.hi.us
Danny A. Mateo, Council Chair email@example.com
Joseph Pontanilla, Council-Vice Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
Gladys C. Baisa, Council Member email@example.com
Robert Carroll, Council Member firstname.lastname@example.org
Elle Cochran, Council Member email@example.com
Donald G. Couch, Jr., Council Member firstname.lastname@example.org
G. Riki Hokama, Council Member email@example.com
Michael P. Victorino, Council Member firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike White, Council Member email@example.com
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