Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SV voters ahead of City Council

The Sun Valley City Council is out of synch with its own city. 

In November, voters approved a 1 percent increase in the local-option sales tax to expand commercial airline service into the valley with revenue guarantees and marketing. The measure failed narrowly in Ketchum and Hailey, but Sun Valley voters were savvy and solid in the knowledge that in order to generate business and solidify their own property values, they need to invest in tourism.

The vote contradicted the direction that the City Council took last summer when it cut its marketing investment by $100,000 for the second time in two years. Council members groused that the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance used too much funding to pay staff, but otherwise the council provided no guidance for the SVMA.

The city hires the SVMA to advertise the area. If city leaders don’t like its work, they have an obligation to shape its direction—or contract with another marketing company. City leaders need to be specific about what they want.

In fiscal 2011, the $1.16 million in LOT receipts accounted for about 24 percent of the city’s revenue. Property taxes and miscellaneous revenue sources, including nearly $700,000 in state sales taxes, made up the rest of a $5 million budget.

When the city considered a new budget for the fiscal year that just began, tax opponents packed the tiny chamber. Judging from the election results, they didn’t speak for the majority.

Sun Valley City Council members should heed voters and invest in marketing to grow visitor numbers and revenues. Voters led. Now the council needs to follow.

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