Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hailey uses excess LOT to fund Mountain Rides

$30,000 to establish free bus service in city

Express Staff Writer

An unexpected surplus of almost $40,000 in Hailey's local option tax revenue has funded free bus service there.

With August the final month of annual calculation for the tax, which was implemented on July 1, 2006, the city realized an annual revenue of $462,721, City Clerk/Treasurer Heather Dawson reported at a City Council meeting last week. The city had originally estimated $425,000 in LOT revenue in its 2006-2007 fiscal year budget.

On Monday, Oct. 8, the council approved Dawson's proposal to give $30,000 to Mountain Rides, formally KART/Peak Bus. The funding that was originally slated for expenditure in the 2007-2008 fiscal year budget. The money will help Mountain Rides provide the free service within the city limits, as well as give 12 to 15 passes good for valley-wide transportation to city employees. In addition, the city and Mountain Rides are considering a program to provide an as-yet-undetermined number of passes to be checked out of the city library free of charge to residents.

"The free passes at the library should be a great way to encourage Hailey residents to get on the bus," said Jason Miller, Mountain Rides marketing director.

By using the previous year's LOT funds for Mountain Rides, the city is free to make a future decision about what to do with the $30,000 in this year's budget.

At a council meeting in September, Councilman Rick Davis suggested that some of the excess LOT revenue be given to the Hailey Chamber of Commerce for marketing purposes to help local businesses recover from revenues lost because of the Castle Rock Fire.

However, returning chamber Executive Director Jim Spinelli, who recently stepped down from his position as city administrator, asked that he be given time to devise a proposal outlining the chamber's needs, which he will bring before the council at an unspecified date.

The remaining $7,721 will be used to improve pedestrian safety by adding 20 more brackets to hold 200 new orange street-crossing flags.

In other Hailey news, councilmen Rick Davis and Don Keirn said they would meet later this week to come up with a plan to hire an interim city administrator. Davis said he would like the interim administrator to not only carry out administrative duties, but also help in the search for a full-time replacement for Spinelli.

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