Kauaʻi Mayor Signs Bill To Increase Benefits to Farmers
Kauaʻi County Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami signed a bill on Monday that updates the county’s Agricultural Dedication program to provide increased benefits to farmers and lessen the burdensome red tape.
Agricultural dedications offer a significant property tax break if the land is used for crops or livestock for a specific period of time. These dedications previously had to be for 10 or 20 years.
Under the new law, all dedications will be for a five-year period, and farmers no longer will be penalized with rollback taxes if a dedication is canceled.
Farmers also will no longer need to record their dedication with the Board of Conveyance. The new program also does not require all owners of properties with multiple owners to sign the petition.
“It’s an honor and pleasure to sign this bill today which will truly help our agriculture industry propel forward and will further support sustainability on our island now and for future generations,” Mayor Kawakami said.
To ensure that the Agricultural Dedication program is incentivizing farming on land designated for agricultural use, farms within the Urban State Land Use District are not eligible for the program unless the county zoning is Agriculture or Open. The program’s assessment valuation method was also changed to 5% of its fair market value, giving properties dedicated to agriculture use a 95% discount on their tax burden. Through this change, the County will continue to subsidize agriculture without gaining additional revenue.
Bill No. 2875, Draft 2, was passed by the Kaua‘i County Council on Sept. 21. A virtual bill-signing ceremony was held Monday. Mayor Kawakami was accompanied by Councilmember Bill DeCosta and Councilmember Luke Evslin, who co-authored the bill. Also in attendance were: Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, Council Vice Chair Mason Chock, Finance Director Reiko Matsuyama, Agriculture Land Use and Valuation Specialist Terry Phillips and Real Property Tax Manager Mike Hubbard.
Councilmember Bill DeCosta thanked the 2016 and 2018 working groups “who put so much time and effort into this bill.”
“The purpose here is to incentivize farming, and to try and reduce the abuse of our agricultural dedication program,” Councilmember Evslin said. “It also reduces the administrative burden both for the farmers and for the county.”
Existing dedications will remain valid until their originally approved dedication period ends, or unless canceled.
“I want to thank all the ranchers, farmers, and all stakeholders that were so patient over the years and for helping us to move forward with this Ag Dedication bill,” said Terry Phillips, the county’s agriculture land use and valuation specialist. “This is a first step in simplifying things for our personnel, while allowing you to farm without fear, and together we’re looking forward to better and brighter things ahead.”
The ordinance took effect upon Mayor Kawakami’s approval and signature on Sept. 26, 2022.
To view Ordinance No. 1132 (Bill No. 2875, Draft 2), visit https://www.kauai.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=WQOtN_mZddc%3d&tabid=187&portalid=0&mid=997.