tax revenue won’t be controlled by lodging industry

By Jim Stanford on January 6, 2011

Comments: 12 Comments

Don't rush to put up another hotel just yet.

The community scored a small victory Tuesday when Teton County commissioners stood firm and thwarted a plan to cede control over lodging tax revenues to the lodging and resort industry.

Commissioners Andy Schwartz, Hank Phibbs and Ben Ellis, as well as Town Councilors Greg Miles and Melissa Turley, deserve praise for maintaining maximum flexibility for the makeup of the board that will oversee the newly reinstated tax.

“Our responsibility is not to the lodging industry or the ski community but to the people who passed it,” Schwartz said, according to the News&Guide.

Mayor Mark Barron had pushed a proposal that he said “stacks the deck,” requiring four of the seven members of the tax board to come from the lodging and resort industry. He also called for designating a seat for someone from an arts or cultural entity.

Now, elected officials will have a freer hand in selecting board members.

The 2 percent tax on hotel rooms, passed by voters in November after a 16-year hiatus, is expected to generate about $3.5 million annually. The board will control how roughly $2.1 million is spent on travel and tourism promotion, with the rest going to local government and visitor services.

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Posted under County Government, Economy, Politics, Town Government

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vote Ellis for county leadership

By Jim Stanford on October 28, 2010

Comments: 5 Comments

If you haven't noticed any Ben Ellis yard signs around town, it's because he mercifully has spared us. Instead, he has painted old doors from the Habitat ReStore.

Update 11/3: Ben was re-elected by nearly 300 votes. Thank you, everyone who supported him!

Today is County Commissioner Ben Ellis‘ birthday. At 44, he remains by far the youngest commissioner and as such brings a vital perspective to the board.

As I’ve written before, it’s imperative that we re-elect Ben to represent us, particularly with revision of the Comp Plan nearing completion. He has been a stalwart voice for progressives and is fearless in pursuing concrete solutions.

Other candidates talk about pathways and energy efficiency, but these have been Ben’s signature issues. He spearheaded the 10×10 initiative in which local government has reduced energy consumption by 10 percent. He rode the sheriff’s department hard to comply. He also pushed to encourage composting as the cost of trash collection rose.

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Posted under County Government, Democratic Party, Environment

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Ellis seeks 2nd term

By Jim Stanford on May 10, 2010

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Ellis has helped make county government more efficient.

Teton County Commissioner Ben Ellis announced last week he will run for re-election.

This is great news, as Ellis, the youngest of the commissioners at 43, has been a progressive champion. He has the rare mix of brains and balls — impressively intelligent when breaking down issues yet unafraid to take bold steps and get things done.

One area where Ellis probably has done his best work is energy efficiency, and the 10 by 10 initiative in particular. He has spearheaded a drive to reduce energy consumption in government by 10 percent by the end of this year — a goal the county is on track to meet — and has exacted substantial energy savings from law enforcement.

His leadership will be critical in the next four years as the town and county adopt a new Comprehensive Plan to govern development and reshape the way we live in a more sustainable fashion.

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