Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Home for moths or money?

    No city, county, state or nation makes apologies for investing in its local economy to try to strengthen it in order to provide good jobs and good lives for people.
    They use taxes to build roads that are essential for shipping goods and enabling people to travel. They build water and sewer systems to keep residents healthy and clean. They fund law enforcement and emergency services to keep people safe and protect property. They aid in redevelopment of blighted areas.
    It’s become common for cities, counties and states to make deals and build infrastructure for specific industries in exchange for jobs. It’s also common for government entities to give tax breaks to industries to entice them to build new operations in their areas.
    Even so—and even though marketing is an essential piece of soft infrastructure for the travel industry—it hasn’t occurred to Blaine County that it should devote a portion of tax revenues to getting the word out that the Sun Valley area is a great place to visit.
    Successive generations of county commissioners have acted as though the county exists independent of the area’s main economic driver: tourism. They’ve relied on the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum to use local-option sales taxes to pay for marketing to keep the economy humming.
    It’s time the county recognized that its tax base is utterly dependent on tourism. Without it, homes and developed property in Blaine County would be worth a fraction of what they are today—if they existed at all—and the county’s coffers would be home to more moths than money.
    It’s time for the county to step up and help pay for marketing.

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