Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Air Service Board sets broad goals

Panel convened to allocate LOT funds to promote commercial air service

Express Staff Writer

Passengers disembark last month from the first flight of a new commercial air route from San Francisco to Hailey. A new tax in the valley has been established to support new and existing air routes to the region. Photo by Roland Lane

    The new Air Service Board last week elected Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe as its chair. He will hold the seat for one year.
    The board met for the first time on Thursday, Jan. 23, with representatives from Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Blaine County in attendance.
    The board’s purpose is to implement a 1 percent local-option tax approved by voters in November with the goal of improving and developing commercial air service to the Wood River Valley. The ballot measure received 66 percent approval in Hailey and 64 percent approval in Ketchum. It was passed by Sun Valley voters last year contingent upon passage by Ketchum voters.
    Each city was allotted one voting member, with an additional position on the board for a county representative. The county will not have a voting seat, but a representative—in this meeting it was Commissioner Larry Schoen—will sit in an advisory capacity due to the county’s status as an airport owner.
    “The citizens of all three cities have established this board by a simple majority, which means two things—they expect us to tackle this problem, and they expect us to improve air service,” Briscoe said.
    A public hearing on the board’s fiscal 2014 budget, expected to be about $1.5 million, will be held during its February meeting. On Thursday, board members discussed the timing of expenditures regarding contracts for services and available revenue, since funds generated from the 1 percent LOT will not be available until February.
    “It’s important that we do not get ahead of ourselves with anticipated revenue and incur obligations that ultimately we can’t pay,” said board member and Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle. “I think it’s critically important that we pay as we go.”
    Representatives from Fly Sun Valley Alliance and the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance also attended the meeting, each giving presentations to the board regarding their respective mission statements and goals for the coming year.

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