County still awaiting settlement over DHHL taxes
By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A settlement between Hawaii County and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands over tax debt from homesteaders remains elusive.
Officials said last February that they were working toward a resolution, but progress has since stalled.
“In working with the department, we hadn’t had any discussions,” county Finance Director Nancy Crawford said about a month ago. “There was a change earlier last year in spring with the chairman, and since then we have not gone back and discussed this.”
Crawford said Thursday talks hadn’t recommenced and the county is currently waiting its turn behind Maui County.
DHHL spokesman Darrell Young said the agency is working to reach a settlement with Maui County and expects to pick up talks with Hawaii County afterward.
“We will work with Maui and kind of come around,” he said.
Hawaii and Maui counties are seeking a settlement with the agency because counties lack the authority to foreclose on homes on DHHL lands, leaving them without a key enforcement measure.
On other lands, the county has the ability to foreclose on a property after three years of delinquent payments.
Maui County has been seeking a resolution with DHHL since 2003, said Maui County spokesman Rod Antone.
“It’s been challenging,” he said, noting recent turnovers in DHHL leadership had made progress difficult.
Antone said he couldn’t estimate when a resolution will be reached.
“The good thing is everybody is still talking,” he said.
DHHL beneficiaries owed about $476,000 to Hawaii County in delinquent property taxes, penalties and interest as of December. Islandwide, the county is owed about $19.6 million in delinquent property taxes.
Crawford said she may seek to restart discussion with DHHL if it takes too long to settle with Maui County.
Hawaii County last reached a settlement with DHHL for delinquent property taxes in 2002.
It received $506,583 then from the agency in exchange for waiving all penalty and interest charges.
Crawford said the talks can be complicated and take time to resolve.
“That’s just part of the process,” she said.
Young said settlements may vary from county to county.
“We’d like to have some sort of universal approach,” he said.
DHHL beneficiaries are exempted from property taxes for the first seven years of their lease, often for a 99-year term.
Afterward, they are charged tax for the value of the home and other structures.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.