- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa is proposing a $622.6 million budget that calls for property tax increases and more than $100 million for capital improvement projects.

Arakawa presented his administration’s spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to the County Council on Tuesday, the Maui News (http://is.gd/0fxo3Y ) reported Wednesday. Arakawa said proposed capital improvement projects and other factors are reasons for his proposed hikes in taxes and fees.

The proposed budget includes $116 million for capital improvement projects including upgrades in roads, water supplies, park facilities and wastewater services, as well as construction of new county baseyards. Arakawa said he wants to continue his long-term plans to upgrade infrastructure, an effort with a cumulative effect some people may notice already.

“Our roads are being maintained on a faster schedule,” he said. “Our water system efficiency is improving. Our wastewater system is of a higher quality, and our park facilities are getting better and better, even if we have to fix them restroom by restroom.”

Property tax rates would increase between 6.4 percent and 6.6 percent, under Arakawa’s proposal. The increase would account for nearly $16 million in additional revenue.

Arakawa said the tax increases could be eliminated if state lawmakers agree to lift a $93 million cap for what Hawaii counties receive from the hotel room tax. Doing that could bring Maui County $17 million in revenue.

County Council member Mike Victorino said he and other council members will review any expansion positions proposed by Arakawa. Victorino said cuts will be made during the review where appropriate and more funds added where appropriate.

He does not want to see new taxes, he said.

“I definitely want to cut (funding in other areas) before I raise taxes,” Victorino said.

The council has until June 10 to pass a budget for the next fiscal year.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com