Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sun Valley flinches


The Sun Valley City Council has failed to deliver an even playing field to the city's merchants.

The problem facing the city is that merchants are forced to collect a 3 percent local sales tax on purchases, while Ketchum, a couple of miles down the road, collects just 1 percent.

That leaves Sun Valley merchants at a serious competitive disadvantage, retailers say, especially on big-ticket items sold in the upscale resort town.

So incensed were some retailers at the disparity, they took steps to draw the Idaho Legislature's attention to the matter, because the city had failed to help them. Attention from a state Legislature that has consistently refused to allow anyone except resort cities the ability to levy local sales taxes is the last thing Sun Valley, Ketchum or Hailey want.

But when it came to a vote on equalizing the taxes, the mayor and two council members flinched.

The city had an opportunity to offset reduced tax revenue from retailers by levying the sales tax on lift tickets and building materials, just as Ketchum does.

It didn't because the construction industry weighed in and the city feared the scrutiny of the industry's big brother, the Idaho State Tax Commission.

The decision leaves Sun Valley retailers still collecting twice the amount collected by Ketchum competitors.

Sun Valley should quit making lame excuses for inequitable taxation and even the playing field. It's time the city went to court, asked for clarification on the law, and got the matter of taxing building materials settled once and for all.

The city should refuse to be bullied or threatened—by anyone.




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