Friday, August 10, 2012

County leaders meet to discuss air-service funding, agreement

Entities hash out details face-to-face

Express Staff Writer

Representatives from Hailey, Ketchum, Sun Valley and Blaine County were set to meet Thursday and discuss final language for a joint powers agreement that could govern how public funds would be used to secure and expand the valley's commercial air service.

Friedman Memorial Airport Authority member Martha Burke said during Tuesday night's Airport Authority meeting that representatives from the cities as well as their attorneys would hash out an agreement on how funds for minimum revenue guarantees would be allocated.

"We will sit in that room and not leave until that joint powers agreement is workable," Burke said.

Fly Sun Valley Alliance member Dick Fenton said that the county's deputy prosecuting attorney, Tim Graves, had received an invitation but that the county would need to decide which commissioner would attend.

Burke said that the Hailey City Council, of which she is a member, agreed earlier this week that it supported a supplemental local option tax to fund minimum revenue guarantees for airlines that may not otherwise fly into the Friedman Memorial Airport.


However, she said, the council wants an agreement that would not tax locals unfairly.

"It's easier for citizens to support an LOT that mostly tourists pay, which would be on car rentals and lodging," she said.

Car rentals are currently taxed at 3 percent, lodging at 2 percent and restaurant and liquor-by-the-drink sales at 1 percent.

Burke said that the joint powers agreement should exclude restaurants, however, as those are usually frequented by valley locals. The Hailey City Council is to continue discussion on the parameters of the proposed tax at a future meeting.

The results of the meeting on a joint powers agreement were not available as of press time on Thursday afternoon. However, Burke said that the deadline is fast approaching for ballot language and a joint powers agreement.

In order to be included on the November 2012 ballot, a question asking voters whether they support a 1 percent supplemental local option tax for minimum revenue guarantees and additional marketing would need to be submitted to the county by Sept. 7.

Kate Wutz:

Burke lobbies for Baird raise

Friedman Memorial Airport manager Rick Baird will not get a raise next year, according to the airport's budget, which was approved on Tuesday night.

Baird currently makes $82,500 per year.

Friedman Memorial Airport Authority member Martha Burke said that she asked Baird about the lack of increase, but he refused it.

"He said he would not ask for that with the current economic times," Burke said. "But I am not going to let another year go where we don't prepare ourselves to present our manager with an appropriate raise."

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