Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ketchum mulls air-board nominee

New panel will oversee use of LOT funds


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum City Council decided Monday to table the selection of its member to represent the city on the new Sun Valley Air Service Board, while choosing not to add any specific criteria for its selection.
The new board will oversee administration of a new 1 percent local sales tax to support commercial air service to the Wood River Valley.
    Community Development and Economic Director Lisa Horowitz told the City Council how the organization will work.
    “We are entering a new world of cooperative planning with the air service board,” Horowitz said. “Since the local-option-tax measure was passed in all cities, all entered into an agreement to work together.”
Mayors of the cities of Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley will nominate a member to serve on the board, with each city council voting to approve or reject each nominee. In addition to the voting members from each city, there will also be a member representing Blaine County who will not have voting rights.
    Councilman Jim Slanetz said he would be open to appointing a member for Ketchum that is not on the City Council if they are experienced and familiar with the Fly Sun Valley Alliance.
    “We should get someone locally to figure out how much money should be spent on if they have a really good grasp on the Fly Sun Valley Alliance,” Slanetz said.
Councilman Baird Gourlay said Ketchum’s representative on the board should be on the City Council for at least the first year.
    “It’s a really quick appointment we have to make,” Gourlay said. “I don’t know if we have time to find the perfect person.”
    Each council member agreed that no additional specific criteria should be added for the board member chosen, as the council seeks to remain flexible in its selection.
    Horowitz explained that not every member on the board will have equal voting rights. Instead, each member’s voting rights will be reflected based on the local-option-tax revenue the city has collected during the previous fiscal year.
    In fiscal year 2013, a total of $3,203,285 in local option tax revenue was generated between the three cities. Ketchum made $1,774,378, Sun Valley collected $1,248,522 and Hailey accrued $180,385. If the numbers are taken at face value, Ketchum will have 55.40 percent of the vote, Sun Valley 35.10 percent and Hailey would receive just 5.60 percent.
    However, Horowitz told the council that staff members of each city met with the Fly Sun Valley Alliance director and board president on Nov. 13 and discussed rounding each percentage to a whole number, and giving Hailey an additional 10 percent. Under that arrangement, Ketchum’s percentage would be rounded up from 49.86 percent to 50 percent, Sun Valley would be rounded down from 35.10 percent to 35 percent, and Hailey would be rounded down from 15.04 percent to 15 percent. No agreement on voting rights has been officially reached.
     As of now, no members of the board have been appointed, and no meetings for the board have been scheduled.
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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