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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sun Valley Air Service Tax Up in the Air With Voters

Posted By on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 at 2:00 PM

While Idahoans consider an already packed election ballot containing contests for president, Congress, the state legislature, constitutional amendments and referendums on the Luna Laws, voters in the Wood River Valley will also face another big decision: whether to approve a new tax to help underwrite commercial air service.

Voters in Ketchum and Sun Valley will vote on a 1 percent local-option tax on retail sales, food and liquor in restaurants and bars, ski lift tickets and hotel rooms. In Hailey, the 1 percent local-option tax would be levied on hotel rooms and rental cars.

One-third of the tax receipts would go toward attracting new air service to the region's airport, while the remainder would go toward existing flights, marketing and administrative costs.

According to the Idaho Mountain Express, opponents argue that locals will end up paying more of the tax increase than visitors.

But proponents contend that the local option is necessary to grow and maintain much needed business to the region.

The Fly Sun Valley Alliance said that two to three new flights into Friedman Memorial Airport could rack up $40 million in new revenues. Proponents say that tourists in the Sun Valley area who arrive by air spend roughly $1,700 per visit. They say that additional flights could bring in 30 passengers from San Francisco, 19 passengers from Denver, and as many as 35 passengers from New York City per day.

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