As a former Idaho state legislator and a member for several sessions of the powerful House Revenue and Taxation Committee, I believe it is important to set the record straight on options granted by the state of Idaho regarding housing funding initiatives.

First, the Housing Trust Fund set up by the state in 1992 has never been funded. If it were funded, I suspect the guidelines would not be beneficial to Blaine County due to our high property values and median incomes.

Funding alternatives as outlined by Mr. Perry Boyle on his website opposing the Bluebird project require, in most instances, legislative approval. Idaho is not a home rule state, which means access to most of the funding tools Mr. Boyle outlines depend on the Idaho Legislature’s support for more taxes.

A flip tax on second homes would require legislative approval, which is highly unlikely at the present time. I introduced a real estate transfer tax several years ago. Many of our local realtors supported the bill and testified in favor, unlike the state realtor organization, which opposed. We received one vote, from the Chair. He represented our district as a Republican.

Short term rental tax: The state already collects 2% on short term rentals for marketing promotion, split between local grantees and the state; it is very unlikely that the legislature would increase the 2% state sales tax on lodging for housing, as the majority party hates to raise taxes.

The city of Ketchum is talking about raising the resort city local option tax to create local housing funding through a hotel tax tied to tourism. This takes a vote of 60% approval from Ketchum voters. Raising the tax 1% would bring Ketchum’s lodging tax equal to the city of Sun Valley’s lodging tax. The next election date is November 2021. Under the law, housing is currently not a permitted use for the resort cities local option tax, but capital improvements are a permitted use, and I believe land could be acquired under current approvals.

The resort cities local option tax is not a “surcharge” but is a permitted increase in sales tax collections provided the use is approved by 60% of the voters of that city.

Finally, the Legislature would need to approve any increase to property taxes with a provision to exempt local owners; taxes are supposed to be “uniform” and the exemption might not fit the “uniform” requirement in the eyes of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

I am happy to visit with Ketchum residents about other options. I want to again reiterate that Idaho is not a home rule state. As a result, the options for housing actions, including funding, are likely to be at the county or city level. The state of Idaho, in my opinion, is not going to help.

Wendy Jaquet, Ketchum

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