Hailey’s LOT collection

Hailey’s LOT collection—applied to street maintenance, park improvements and other categories— accounts for about 10 percent of the city’s yearly revenue. Voters opted to extend the measure on Tuesday. 

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Idaho’s May 19th primary election will be held by mail-in ballot only, Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced last month.

“Given the growing number of coronavirus cases in Idaho, it simply was not safe for voters, election workers or the larger community to hold in-person voting,” Denney said in a prepared statement.

How to vote

To vote from home, Blaine County residents first need to request an absentee ballot one of two ways. The first option is visiting idahovotes.gov/vote-early-idaho, which directs each online user to fill out a ballot application using the last four digits of his or her Social Security number and driver’s license number.

The second option to obtain a ballot is downloading and filling out an application form—which can be accessed by typing tinyurl.com/yarfzt6n directly into a browser—and emailing it to the Blaine County Elections office at elections@blainecounty.org or mailing it in to 206 1st Ave S., Ste. 200, Hailey ID 83333. This form, which does not require an Idaho state-issued ID, can also be faxed to the Elections Office at 208-788-5568.

Whether submitted through idahovotes.gov or the county elections office, all ballot request forms must be received by 8 p.m. on May 19. Once filled out, ballots need to be mailed back to the office in their pre-addressed envelopes by 8 p.m. on June 2.

“Voters should not wait until May 19 to request their ballot or to vote,” Denney said. “You can start today, and as soon as you receive your requested ballot, fill it out and mail it back in.”

Any resident who is not registered to vote but wishes to participate in the May 19 primary will need to fill out a combined application form (tinyurl.com/yaucvjga) and submit it to the Elections Office by May 19 via email, fax or mail.

About Hailey’s LOT option

During this election, Hailey residents will determine the future of the city’s local-option tax collection, a source of revenue that the city has been angling to extend until 2050. Currently, the LOT is set to expire in 2030.

Per Idaho code, resort cities, such as Hailey, can only vote to impose or adjust local-option taxes on tourist-based revenue streams if their population is under 10,000. With the U.S. Census on track to release new data next year, however, city officials can’t be sure that Hailey’s population—recently estimated at 8,500—will stay that way.

“We need to extend the life of our local-option tax payout before the census [data] is out,” Hailey Mayor Martha Burke said at a previous council meeting.

Today, Hailey levies a 4 percent local-option tax on car rentals and lodging, a 2 percent tax on alcohol by the drink and a 1 percent tax on restaurant food. Since the inception of the tax in 2006, the city has collected about $6 million in additional revenue. Last year alone, it brought in about $575,000.

Two options will appear on their ballot: “in favor” or “against” extending the life of the levy. To view sample ballots for each party, visit www.co.blaine.id.us/196/elections.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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