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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of Feb 5 - 12, 2002

  News

Legislators kibosh transit tax bill


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

A bill that would be a key factor in funding public transportation in Blaine County died an early death, when the Idaho Legislatureís Revenue and Taxation Committee voted that it should not go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Submitted to the committee by House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, the bill would give resort areas the option to create a sales tax of up to .5 percent to pay for public transportation and roads. Sixty-percent approval by county voters would be required for the tax.

Jaquet felt confident last week that most committee members favored the bill, even though Chairwoman Dolores Crow "hates it because she thinks itís a tax increase." But the bill was narrowly defeated 10 to 8 with one member absent Monday.

"The key to making any progress (with implementing public transportation in Blaine County) is to have a funding source, and that legislation would be a key funding source," said Beth Callister, the director of Wood River Rideshare and the person who has been trying to start a commuter bus service between Bellevue and Ketchum.

The bus was scheduled to begin operation Feb. 1, but has been delayed because not enough money is available for the $108,000 annual cost.

Jaquet said committee members voted against the bill because they saw it as a tax increase. Jaquet called that thinking faulty because the bill would only give local communities the option to decide to tax themselves.

Chairwoman Crow, a Republican from Nampa, was not available for comment.

To help make the bill more palatable to opponents, Jaquet planned to limit its application to counties with 40,000 or fewer residents. And she included a provision that would make the tax option available for roadway improvements, not just public transportation.

Other counties that could have used the tax include Bonner, Nez Perce, Bingham, Latah and Valley.

The amount needed for an all-day, Bellevue-to-Ketchum commuter bus and a local circulator bus in Hailey and Bellevue would be about $703,000.

A .5 percent sales tax could raise around $1.5 million.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.