Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sun Valley opposes road and bridge levy

City leaders to send letter to county

Express Staff Writer

    The Sun Valley City Council voiced its staunch opposition Thursday to a proposed Blaine County special levy tax to provide funding for county bridges and roads.
    With all four Sun Valley City Council members strongly against the plan, the council voted to have Mayor Dewayne Briscoe write a letter of opposition to the county.
    “Our property taxes have gone up, and we’re managing the city in that parameter,” Councilman Franz Suhadolnik said. “I have a hard time supporting this because we could keep a levy here with less of a tax burden on our citizens.”
    The Board of Blaine County Commissioners first communicated with the city of Sun Valley in August 2013 about a possible road and bridge levy because the county has determined a need for supplemental funding beyond state taxes. The cities of Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Carey have since sent letters of support to the commissioners in regards to the potential levy.
    Briscoe was adamant that he would not write a letter to the board of commissioners unless the council reached a consensus of either support or opposition. Each council member agreed it was important for the city to respond to the board of commissioners promptly, and swiftly built consensus in opposition to the levy.

Nobody helps us with our roads, yet we’re helping all of our friends in the valley.”
Peter Hendricks

    After Blaine County Commissioner Angenie McCleary said Gannett Road is the county’s most traveled road, Councilwoman Michelle Griffith bemoaned Sun Valley’s own issues with funding road maintenance and repairs.
    “My issue is that citizens in the city pay for our own roads,” Griffith said. “I would argue that Elkhorn [Road] is just as heavily traveled as Gannett, if not more. We have to pay for that all by ourselves in Sun Valley.”
    Councilman Peter Hendricks echoed Griffith’s concerns.
    “I was taken aback by the number of items for funding that should not be in a levy, such as tires, freight, gas prices and all that,” Hendricks said. “Now I look back on this and see there are no property taxes for roads. I find it curious, and I find it perhaps misguided. I also have a concern over the issue that we have to pay for our own roads, and nobody helps us with our roads, yet we’re helping all of our friends in the valley that we probably don’t travel an awful lot on.”
    Hendricks said he is against the levy because he did not feel it would be equitable for the city of Sun Valley, and wanted to look at restructuring the funding of the city’s roads.
    In a letter Blaine County Board of Commissioners Chairman Larry Schoen wrote to the City Council, Schoen said, “The county is leaning in the direction of a special two-year levy at a tax rate not more than 0.1 percent with 50 percent of funds generated by city property taxes returning to the cities.”
Eric Avissar:

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