New Airport Will Need Property Tax Money

Proponents of the constitutional amendment that passed in November repeatedly claimed “no tax money” would be used for airports. Now, it looks like they were wrong if the news from Sun Valley area is any indication.

The proposition that amended the Idaho Constitution allows airports to sell municipal bonds without a public vote. The sale of REVENUE bonds requires them to be repaid through operational fees and rent.

Well, once reality set in, it became apparent there just isn’t enough operational fee income for Hailey to finance a new airport without a GENERAL OBLIGATION bond of $35-40 million…you guessed it, FROM PROPERTY TAXES!

Like Boise, Hailey politicos are convinced that bigger is better and the only way to success is to build a bigger airport. The new constitution allows airports to sell bonds, but NOT if property taxes are used–that still requires a two-thirds vote of the electors. Easier to get in Sun Valley where there are plenty of high-end homes, but the owners are for the most part non-residents and can’t vote. Idaho MOUNTAIN EXPRESS has the full details.

We don’t oppose such improvements as long as the citizens get their say at the polls. It looks like the voice of the public will be heard if the politicos want to get into their pockets.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I’ve driven through Ketchum/Hailey when the Bill Gates / Warren Buffett Love-Fest has been going on. It’s quite a sight to see all those private jets lined up on the tarmac. (“Mucho Dinero,” as they say in the Old Countrie.)

    You’d think those tycoons could each write out a check to help keep their runways smooth and long. If Ted Turner were in the club, he’d bulldoze off a few of those mountains that get in the way of the approach.

    Remember when some guy complained because he couldn’t land his tricked-out 727 in Hailey? He actually expected them to expand the airport for his plane! But if it was set to handle a 727, next thing you know Sheik Yerbouty would demand that they tweak it again, for his Airbus 380.

  2. While I have no comment regarding the funding of this project, according to the FAA there are good reasons why a replacement airport is needed:

    “Friedman Memorial Airport does not comply with a number of FAA airport design standards. Although the airport and the FAA ensure the safe operation of the airport, this is an impact to the airport and community in its ability to meet the current and future demands due to its limits on capacity and efficiency.

    For example:

    The horizontal distance between the airport parallel taxiway and the runway is at 250 ft. rather than the required 400 ft. per FAA design standard. In order to meet FAA design standards for the type of commercial and general aviation aircraft that routinely use the airport, aircraft taxi movements are constrained when aircraft such as the Horizon Airlines Dash 8-400 flies into Friedman Memorial.

    The FAA required Runway Safety Area and Runway Object Free Areas do not meet standards because of the close proximity of the runway to State Highway 75. Because of the Runway Safety Area length deficiency a portion of the north end of the runway is not available for use for aircraft takeoffs and landings as it has been designated as part of the Runway Safety Area. This would not be the case if Friedman Memorial Airport had the required 1,000 ft. long by 500 foot wide safety area that is required beyond the end of the runway. A limitation on available runway length detracts from the airport’s ability to serve the needs of the future forecast demand. For example, if an airline currently serves the airport with 30 seat turbo-prop aircraft and decides to operate an all regional jet fleet, this may result in the loss of service by this airline.

    Terrain issues associated with the airport negatively affect the ability of an airline or general aviation operator to access the airport in poor weather. Although technology is helpful, it cannot fully mitigate terrain issues. Mountainous terrain on the east, west, and north sides of the airport precludes instrument approach procedures such as exist at most commercial airports. Therefore, based on historic data approximately 25 percent of scheduled airline flights during winter months are either cancelled or diverted to another airport.

    Alternatives to conform to FAA design standards have been evaluated. These options include relocating the runway and parallel taxiway to the west to provide for the object free area and to meet the 400-foot runway to taxiway separation requirements. This option requires the demolition and replacement of all of the airport hangars, the airport terminal, the Fixed Base Operator and airport support facilities, access and parking. Additionally, as these facilities would have to be shifted to the west of their current location, a number of businesses located west of the airport would have to be purchased and relocated to accommodate airport expansion. The second option for meeting requirements at the current airport site would require the relocating State Route 75 to the east, acquisition of approximately 80 residences and the relocation of the airport runway east of its current location to provide for the 400 feet of runway to taxiway separation. Additionally, even with the implementation of one of these options to meet design standards, the airport would still need to extend the existing runway to provide adequate length for operations by regional jets which would require additional land acquisition and expansion beyond current airport boundaries. Further, neither option for meeting design standards, nor the extension of the airport runway would address the frequent airport closures and flight diversion issue. The airport would remain subject to frequent closures during inclement weather and periods of reduced visibility due to the surrounding mountainous terrain.”

  3. Sounds like more careless spending from the people with the government jobs. Did anyone tell the big spenders the impact of Obamas $200 oil plan. Airline travel into this place will be getting less not more. Their build a big port on my dime for a few super rich guys with big planes. Charge a big landing fee instead or use Twin Falls.

    Starve the beast!

  4. Here’s a novel idea…if 25% of the flights into Hailey get cancelled due to weather why put more money into an already bad location for an airport.

    Do whatever needs to be done to the twinfalls airport, which would be next to nothing and get on with life.
    Let all the rich folks land and take off from twin and offer bus/limo service from Twin Falls to Hailey. Or..have a fleet of cars for rent.

    Pouring all this cash into a subsidy for the obscenely rich people to be able to land at Hailey boggles my mind.

    EDITOR NOTE–While the rich will obviously benefit, I think their motive is to attract more scheduled carriers from bigger cities into the Wood River Valley. One thing that was discussed in the past was a joint Twin/Hailey facility near Shoshone. We think voters might just suggest a small airport like they have with continued safety improvements.

  5. BT, the short answer to your diatribe? As others have correctly posted here, tell the “bigboys” they will have to land their G-4’s in Twin and take a cab!!!!
    Officials in Hailey can hope for increased commercial traffic till hell freezes. The real world is it will only happen when the demand is there. You cannot logically, increase the “supply” in hopes that the demand will follow! Sounds like someone was assleep when they took Econ 101!

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