Q:My elderly uncle is a veteran on a fixed income. His property tax bill is due soon, but he's having a hard time since the bill went up and he's living on a pension. Is there any way he can get some help paying his property taxes?
A:There are several property tax relief programs your uncle may be eligible for, and it would be best to apply for any applicable exemptions or credits right away, since they would be applied to his property tax bill as soon as legally possible. Keep in mind that the second half of the real property tax bill is due on Feb. 20, 2013; there would be no relief on the current tax bill. For the future, however, your uncle would benefit to inquire about the county tax relief programs. A new exemption was passed last year allowing totally disabled veterans or their surviving spouse to pay a real property tax of $150 per year. Hopefully your uncle is already receiving the Homeowner's Exemption (HE), which reduces property taxes for residents who own and live in their primary residence and file a State of Hawaii Resident Individual income tax return. If your uncle already receives the HE, he may also qualify for the income-based Circuit Breaker tax credit, if his property taxes exceed 2.0 percent of his adjusted gross income; applications for the HE are due by on or before Dec. 31 preceding the tax year being claimed. Circuit Breaker applications are received between Aug. 1st and Dec. 31st of each year, and are credited to the property the following tax year. Tax filings and other documentation will be required for the various discount programs; for more information and to download forms and instructions, visit www.mauicounty.gov/RPT. For more information on tax relief programs, call the Real Property Tax Division at 270-7697.
Ask the Mayor
Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa
Q:My house is located on Kula Highway. Even though the road seems wide enough, we do not have automated trash pickup. How can I find out if we will ever get automated service?
A:The Solid Waste Division has converted roughly 80 percent of the residents receiving curbside trash pickup to automated service. There are some areas Upcountry that will be automated within the next three to four years. Not all homes can receive automated refuse service, and it may depend on accessibility for the large trucks, roadway conditions and route capacity. In those areas where automated trucks cannot access, the County will be looking at semi-automation, which will require the use of different types of equipment. For more information about your specific area, call the Department of Environmental Management's Solid Waste Division at 270-7875.
Q:I noticed the new electric car chargers in front of the County Building. Who runs the chargers, and where can I buy a key so I can charge my Leaf?
A:The charging stations fronting the County Building were installed by the Mayor's Office and the Public Works Department using a mix of state and county funds. A key "fob," or charging unit key, is required to operate the charging stations. The key fobs can be obtained for a $20 cash deposit from the Maui County Business Resource Center in Maui Mall in Kahului; identification is required. There are actually two different chargers mounted side by side: one is a Level 2 charger that can be used by almost all current models of fully electric vehicles and plug in hybrids; the other is a Quick Charger. It is the only one currently on Maui. The quick chargers allow Nissan Leafs and other fully electric vehicles equipped with "Chademo" ports to charge in as little as 20 minutes. At this time, there is no cost to charge your electric vehicle at the County building, but it is anticipated that a charge will be imposed once the Public Utilities Commission establishes a tariff for quick chargers and the Council approves the fee. Parking spots in front of the chargers are still subject to the two-hour limit, and one of the stalls is dedicated for electric vehicle use. The chargers are available for public use even when county offices are closed. Any questions may be directed to Maui County Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod at 270-7710, or visit the County website at www.mauicounty.gov/energy.
Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your questions about Maui County to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email to AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, or call 270-7855 or write to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the "Ask the Mayor" column.