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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002


Bus tax rejection short-sighted

Blaine County residents won’t be able to tax themselves to build a bus system—even if they want to.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee made sure of that last week when members voted 10-8 against a half-cent sales tax for resort counties.

Rejection of a local-option sales tax for transportation was a mistake.

Burgeoning traffic on Highway 75 is a huge problem with just two remedies: pave the valley floor or fund a bus system.

Paving will make the valley so ugly no one will want to visit. Businesses might as well pack up and leave if the place loses its character just so every car can have its own private parking space.

That leaves mass transit as the single viable remedy.

The committee failed to see this. A bus system will help the area’s economy, save commuters money, free up parking for customers and businesses in Ketchum, and reduce the money the state will have to spend on highway expansion.

Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, vociferously opposed the tax. She made it clear that tourism should live or die on its own.

The Idaho Statesman reported that Barrett said, "If tourism is such a hot commodity, it should be allowed to flourish under the free enterprise system."

Yet, her district has been a large recipient of federal largesse. Timber, mining, grazing—name the subsidy and her district has gotten the checks.

The score? Three points for trees, rocks and cattle. Tourists, nothing.

The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, and Rep. Tim Ridinger, R-Shoshone, shouldn’t give up just because the bill was defeated by the narrow minded the first time around.

The valley needs a stable source of funding for a bus system. A small sales tax controlled by voters—and paid primarily by visitors—could be just the ticket.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.