On Tuesday, voters in Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey should vote yes to earmark funds generated by a tourist tax for use in staunching the loss of affordable workforce housing.
Voters will decide whether half of existing local-option sales tax revenues that are now used to pay for airline seat subsidies and marketing should be redirected to housing.
Voting yes will not raise taxes.
Redirecting the revenue is the only chance the cities have to counteract the stratospheric property price hikes that have left workers with no place to live and businesses dying for lack of workers.
The list of local jobs going unfilled is long and getting longer. It includes everything from jobs for doctors, nurses, teachers and accountants to mechanics, chefs, bus drivers and restaurant and retail staffers.
The need for action on the housing shortage has been well documented in nearly every mountain resort town in the West. However, Idaho laws have left the state’s resort towns with few tools to do anything about it.
Local residents need to put up or shut up with this vote. They will either give the cities permission to use a small portion of the local-option resort cities sales tax for housing or they will have to lower their expectations for life in the area.
If the vote fails, residents soon could expect to get no response or tardy response to calls for help needed because of fires, medical emergencies or crimes because there will not be enough personnel to come to their aid.
They can expect wait times for medical appointments to go from weeks to months.
They can expect to spend a lot of time driving long distances for medical care because the shortage of doctors, nurses and other health-care workers will grow. They can expect delays in treatment that could threaten their lives.
They can expect to drive the same long distances just to get a vehicle repaired or a watch fixed.
They can expect to see repair services for burst pipes, leaking roofs or malfunctioning appliances vanish or become prohibitively expensive.
They can expect to see favorite local retailers and restaurants shut their doors when owners become exhausted or sell out to faceless national chains that sell only luxury items.
They can expect eye-popping prices for everything from food to dental cleanings.
Without enough teachers, they can expect to see school class sizes balloon and today’s good schools slide toward poorer education.
All of these things have already begun in a slow-motion economic train wreck in which businesses can’t generate higher wages and employees can’t meet the rent even with three jobs.
No eligible voter should sit out this election. No one should think that their vote won’t matter. Yes votes are super important because a state law requires hard-to-get 60% majorities for the housing measures to pass.
There’s only one way to deal with the housing shortage. It’s the same way valley residents took care of other needs before this one arrived.
They banded together, met at the ballot box and gave the cities the financial resources they needed to pave roads, build water and sewer systems, buy ambulances and fire trucks, and build parks and recreation facilities.
The housing vote is no different. Voting yes will give the cities a serious tool they can use to keep the housing shortage from squeezing the life out of our towns.
“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Watch this discussion.
Perhaps we should just vote to repeal the Law of Supply and Demand.
This is the same editorial board who backed Bluebird as “workforce” housing. They only need to read their own newspaper today to understand that it is not. This is a gang that either cannot see how Ketchum is becoming Aspenized by the policy and politicians they support, or is all-in on making that a reality.
Are you sure this will fix all the doom and gloom you predict?
Welcome to the discussion.