Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Report: Air Service Advocates Propose New Tax in Wood River Valley

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Ketchum city officials expressed skepticism July 16 over a proposal to introduce a new tax in order to pay airlines to bring or keep their business in the Wood River Valley.

A group calling itself Fly Sun Valley Alliance unveiled a proposal to Ketchum city leaders that would put an initiative before voters in at least two of the valley's three cities—Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley—that could introduce a new 1 percent local-option tax. The tax would be expected to generate funds to incentivize airlines to support more air service to the Wood River Valley.

This morning's Idaho Mountain Express reports that Wally Huffman, director of development for the Sun Valley resort, is a chief proponent of a new local-option tax.

"Plan A is to increase the LOT," Huffman told the Express. "Plane C is do nothing and fail. Plan B is let's use the existing tax base to accomplish the same thing. This is not a good choice."

According to the Express, "some Ketchum business owners said voters would naturally be against a tax hike unless there were proper public outreach to inform voters that most of the tax would be paid by tourists."

Additionally, Ketchum City Attorney Stephanie Bonney said she was skeptical that a joint powers agreement among cities could be ready in time to put before voters on this November's ballot.

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