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Locals Speak About New Option Sales Tax In The Wood River Valley

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By Joey Martin

Ketchum, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) on November 5th, voters in Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley approved a new 1 percent local option tax increase.

The new tax won't go into effect until January 1st of 2014.

Joey Martin for Idaho’s First News explains what the tax is all about...

And how local residents feel about it.

With tourism driving the economy in the Wood River Valley.

Officials there felt it was time to invest in the local air service.

That's when the idea of a one percent local option sales tax increase was discussed.

With that increase strictly going to improve air service to the area.

"It's a one percent add on to our existing local option tax. The revenue for it would go to the airport group that's paying for incentives for the airlines to service the valley area."
Said Ketchum City Administrator, Gary Marks.

So what exactly will the one percent add-on be taxing?

"It applies to hotel rooms, second homes that owners rent out, building materials and it also applies to liquor by the drink and by certain retail including restaurant meals."
Said Marks.

To get a feel for what locals think about the new one percent increase.

I sat down with a local representative from the lodging community.

She seems to think that the new one percent increase favors one demographic over another.

"I don't get a lot of wealthy people coming to stay. I think that this tax is defiantly to help the wealthier of the locals... the "Local" locals, who have been here forever... I think they're being punished. And I don't think that that's right."
Said an anonymous resident in the hotel industry.

But, as the city of Ketchum explains, the new option tax increase is in place to take advantage of the number of tourists coming to the area.

"While we can't get down to a precise number... we believe its somewhere in the range of 3 to1. Otherwise, for every one dollar paid by a local resident... 3 dollars is paid from people on the outside.
There was considerable discussion beforehand, both pro and con... ultimately the voters decided in a 64% margin."
Said Marks.

With only a 60% margin needed to pass.

Locals will have to deal with the new tax increase for the foreseeable future.

The new option tax will be in effect for the next 15 years.

After that time it will go back to the voters for a final decision to either keep it or do away with it.


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