Friday, November 9, 2012

How LOTs came to the valley

Cities in the Wood River Valley have a history of being on the vanguard when it comes to initiating non-property taxes in Idaho, but as voters in Hailey and Ketchum demonstrated Tuesday, breaking trail is no walk in the park and often offers no guarantees. The original local option tax in Ketchum and Sun Valley—approved by both cities in October 1978 by 88 percent of Ketchum voters and 96 percent of Sun Valley voters—was the first of its kind in Idaho. However, it took some grunt work to get it done. That tax, 5 percent on sales of liquor by the drink and hotel rooms, was initiated by then Ketchum Mayor Jerry Seiffert. Seiffert and his team of “bed-and-booze tax” supporters were coached by Rep. Steve Antone, R-Rupert, chairman of the House Committee on Revenue and Taxation, on how to get the Legislature to approve the new tax. The resulting enabling legislation, adopted hesitantly by the Legislature, required 60 percent voter approval for the LOT to pass. Under state law, that requirement for a super majority remains in effect and is why the supplemental 1 percent LOT for air failed even though most voters in Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley voted in its favor Tuesday.

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