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Oahu motorists react to proposed gas tax hike

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Mar 01 2013 08:26:00 PM HST

These may not be the highest gas prices in the state but Oahu motorists do pay more in taxes at the pump than any other island.

HONOLULU -

The last time the city and county of Honolulu increased its fuel tax was in 1989.

Twenty-four years later, fuel prices are much higher and rising. So Mayor Kirk Caldwell's 5-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike proposal is not sitting well with many, including a local tax expert.

Oahu may not be the highest gas prices in the state, but motorists on Oahu do pay more in taxes at the pump than any other island.

At 16.5 cents a gallon, the city's gas tax is already about two times as much as Hawaii County, according to the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

And with gas prices steadily rising, Tax Foundation of Hawaii President Lowell Kalapa said, "I think the timing is poor on behalf of the city administration to raise the fuel tax at this time."

"My family is growing so I may have to downsize my car, and would I really want that? Of course, I probably work more hours. More work, more harder," said Kalihi resident Jonathan Puletasi.

Student Jamie Kim said, "That's definitely going to impact the way I drive because I pay for my own gas. So like, I'm not going to want to like drive anywhere, you know? Like, I'm probably going to maybe like start carpooling with friends if that happens."

Kalapa said it probably won't happen.

"I think it's pretty much dead on arrival from the standpoint that the 5 cents is a little too high. I mean, maybe they can get away with a penny or two.

"I appreciate his efforts to repair the roads, but I think people need to understand that we need to move all of the funds taken from highway users and put it into the roads and that's not happening right now."

Makiki resident Joe Hamil said a moped is the only way to go.

"Probably see more and more mopeds on the road," Hamil said.

Hamil added that he pays maybe $10 a week in gas and his moped gets 70 miles a gallon.

In 2011, former mayor Peter Carlisle proposed a 6 cent gas tax increase over three years. The City Council rejected it.

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