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Editorial Policy: Letters to the Editor may be up to 250 words in length. A handwritten signature (unless emailed), address and telephone number must be included. Letters must be received by no later than Monday at noon. Letters should pertain to a local issue and not be libelous or distasteful. Letters may be edited for content and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Clearwater Progress.



All I Have to Say Print E-mail
Written by Ben Jorgensen, The Clearwater Progress   

Taxing Internet sales won't help main Street

     Do you think you should have to pay state sales tax on your Internet purchases?

     Actually, you are already supposed to report such purchases but few, relatively speaking, Idahoans do. More than 9,600 Idahoans paid the tax on their 2012 state income tax returns, contributing more than $544,000 to state coffers. However, with about 700,000 returns in all, there is only about a 1.4% compliance rate.

     Idahoans just aren’t giddy about admitting to their estimated $1 billion in annual Internet sales. But this golden goose is too tempting to let alone.

     Idaho is considering implementing what is called the streamlined sales tax rule, which would collect the 6% sales tax directly from online retailers, who most assuredly would pass that tax along to customers.

     Governor Butch Otter considers the tax to be a fairness issue for main street businesses that pay their share of tax only to see online businesses avoid it. The topic made it into his State of the Union speech and again was briefly discussed at Kamiah’s Capital for a Day on Jan. 16.

     The Idaho Association of Counties, the Association of Idaho Cities, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Idaho Chamber Alliance, and the Idaho Retailers Association have all previously supported the rule.

     Standing in their way are legislators who for the past few years have killed the bill because they see it as a tax increase.

     It certainly is from the standpoint of the customer and online business. For the main street business, the lack of collection of sales tax from online competitors would certainly feel more like an unjust tax break. It’s all about perspective.

     Online retailers do have an advantage in setting product prices over main street businesses because the online stores are presently not required to collect sales tax. The main street businesses argue that customers come into their stores only to leave and buy products online where they can avoid paying the tax.

     If this is true, it clearly demonstrates that customers don’t want to pay more tax and are willing to shop around for the best deal. Who can blame them?

     But I wonder, instead of trying to get sales tax enacted online, why don’t the main street businesses provide their goods online too, where they are not presently taxed? It seems like they would likely increase their overall sales. Main street businesses would then have an advantage of having a brick and mortar location as well as a healthy online presence.

     Taxes always result in consequences, and once enacted, they don’t go away. At some point legislation will pass into law, if not this year, then in the next several. There is an estimated $82 million in potential Internet sales tax revenue state bean counters are licking their proverbial chops over.

     Will said collection of such funds suddenly improve the bottom line of main street businesses? Will it force more people to shop at main street businesses? To what degree will $82 million benefit main street businesses? Time will ultimately tell.

     But my hunch is it will not be the boon that main streeters think it will. Sure, it fixes a fairness issue of sorts. But it does not guarantee a redirection of traffic from burgeoning online sales back into brick and mortar stores.

     It might accomplish that if price was the only consideration for customers. There is more at play than price. Product selection is a biggie too. And convenience.

     Many online customers like being able to shop in their pajamas at home outside of the hours of 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Our culture leans to laziness and the Internet fills that niche nicely. These folks don’t want to fight crowds and colds and no parking and bad drivers and noise and obnoxious people talking on their cell phones. For this crowd, and it’s $1 billion big here in Idaho, shopping online is sanguine.

     Taxing online sales will simply increase the cost of products and nothing more. It siphons more money from the private sector and gives it to the government sector. What does the private sector receive in return?

     Will we get better schools and roads? That would be nice, but how well is that being accomplished at the hand of bureaucracy right now? Does giving more money to bureaucracy improve bureaucracy?

     Increased taxation may settle a fairness issue among types of business but it will not drive more business back to main street.

     No sales tax would do that rather nicely.

 
Guest Editorial Print E-mail

Fix wastewater troubles with discourse, not bullying

By Gerry Cathey

     A heads up to the taxpayers and public service users of Stites and Kooskia.

     In about the year 2000 the city of Stites found itself in the position that its’ aged lagoon type sewer treatment system no longer met Idaho Division of Environmental Quality specifications required to meet discharge permit limits for effluents released to the South fork of the Clearwater river.

     The then mayor and council of Stites quest for solutions drilled down to a couple options. It was immediately obvious that the cost of any option would be more than could be funded by service fees alone. Pursuit of options funded by grant dollars led Stites city leaders to an option to replace the existing lagoon system at the cost of approximately $2.4 million or to construct a sewer main from Stites to Kooskia connecting a pumping station system at Stites to the Kooskia city treatment plant at a cost of approximately $1.6 million.

     Because of less initial cost and less maintenance cost after completion the pumping station and mainline (Sewer Interceptor Line) to Kooskia  became the option of pursuit, however; this option required that the City of Kooskia allow for and be reimbursed for the volume of sewage discharged to the Kooskia wastewater treatment plant.

     Stites’s choice of engineering firm, Progressive Engineering of Lewiston, served as advisor to both communities resulting in the mutual acceptance of the latter as the method of choice. With bond funding and grant funds Stites purchased 28 percent of the capacity of the Kooskia Wastewater Treatment Plant, the pumping station and mainline were built, an intermunicipal contract was crafted that defined the method of payment to Kooskia and the new system was put into production in late 2002.

     Disputes caused by the occurrence of problems unforeseen during design of the system have presented challenges to the Mayor and Councils of the two parties of the intermunicipal contract, some have not been mutually resolved.

     In 2012 Stites and Kooskia city leaders employed the services of a mediator to diffuse disputes, the result was a revised contract between the two communities. To no avail, the dispute over payments to Kooskia from Stites continues, in November 2014 an additional attempt to solve disputes by a neutral mediator, in this case a retired judge, was attempted with the same disappointing and expensive result.

     On Jan. 14, 2015 Stites received notice from Kooskia’s Lewiston based city attorney threatening legal action against Stites for default and breach of contract.

     Stites’ position in the dispute is this; Stites has, is and will continue to make monthly payments to the Kooskia Wastewater Treatment Plant per the 2012 intermunicipal contract.  The dispute continues as a result of Kooskia city leaders continued refusal to provide Stites city leaders with consistent cost amounts for operation and maintenance which are needed by Stites to exercise the contract formula that calculates, on an annual basis, the amount that will be paid monthly to the Kooskia Wastewater Treatment Plant.

     Furthermore Kooskia has expressed dis-satisfaction with the methodology for payment defined in the 2012 contract, but refuses to meet with Stites to discuss other options.

     Stites is an integral part of the Kooskia community.  Kooskia is the recipient of commerce from Stites residents who willingly purchase a significant percentage of their goods, to name some; groceries, restaurants and bars, gasoline and convenience stores, auto parts, wrecker services, banking and funeral needs, at Kooskia businesses.

     Children from the Stites/Kooskia community attend the same schools from K through 12th grade and participate in extra-curricular activities together. Many families attend the same places of worship. Members of volunteer emergency medical and fire protection organizations are made of residents of both communities, I have many friends and acquaintances who live at Kooskia.

     At this time Stites is certainly not treated as a contributor to the well-being of Kooskia. Instead Kooskia city leaders, through their attorney are attempting to bully Stites to compliance with their wishes on the Kooskia Wastewater Treatment Plant dispute.

     Stites’ position is that Kooskia’s lawsuit, even if they prevail  will provide no winners, only legal costs that neither community can afford which will be passed on to you; the taxpayers and users of city services in both communities.

     Please get involved in the dispute by contacting your respective mayor and city council, learn the details of the dispute and make known to your city leaders your decision as to the practicality and expense of litigation.

     There is a dispute but it seems that if both Stites and Kooskia leaders take the initiative to sincerely engage the issue and arrange for productive discussion a solution can be accomplished without the unaffordable monetary expense of litigation plus further damage to an already tenuous working relationship.

Gerry Cathey is a Stites resident and former city council member. He was recently appointed by Stites to fill the term of a councilor who resigned. 

 
What's new Print E-mail
Written by Angela Broncheau   

Ee-too-tum-tine    

     Sincere condolences to the family of William (Bull) Eneas. William was a true warrior, hunter and fisher, providing for his family and community. Prayers of comfort for his beloved wife Cheryl (Slickpoo) Eneas, children, grandchildren, and other family members.

     Week four of the Winter Physical Activity Challenge…come on Team Nimiipuu let’s get moving, pump up our daily minutes! Thus far, Spokane Tribe is in the lead, but the challenge is young, we can do this! Get moving! Remember to report your minutes every Monday before 10 a.m. to Crissy Garcia or Angela Broncheau.

     Super Bowl...oh ho hum! Who’s going to win? I predict the Patriots! Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Tailgate will be Blue Friday, Jan. 30 at 11:15 a.m. at the Pi-nee-waus building in Lapwai. Barbecue lunch by donation and silent auction, all proceeds will benefit Robert and Elizabeth (Broncheau) Tewawina family, who recently lost their home in a fire.  There will be a “Best Dressed Seahawk’s Fan Contest” at 12:30 p.m. To donate food/silent auction items contact Joyce McFarland at (208) 621-4610. 

     Belated January birthday blessings to Julio Zarate Cruz, Ryan Lockart, Brandon McHone, and Kathy Taylor.

     Anniversary blessings to Mark and Michaela Garrison!

Yox Kalo^ (That’s all)

 

 

 
Wolf Problems? Print E-mail

The following list of numbers is offered for anyone who experiences problems with wolves. 

 

Suspected Livestock Predation

Call USDA Wildlife Services, 1-866-487-3297 or contact Justin Mann, local Wildlife Specialist at 208-869-3297. Personnel will be dispatched to investigate.

 

Frequent Wolf Sightings

Contact the Nez Perce Tribe, Curt Mack at 208-634-1060. They will gather and record information, then provide advice.

 

Report Sighting of a Wolf

Go to Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game website to fill out a wolf report form: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/

 

Health and Human Safety Concerns

A wolf may be killed if life and human safety is at risk. Contact Idaho Fish & Game at 208-799-5010 or call Nez Perce Tribe at 208-634-1061 or 911 Sheriff dispatch. All wolf kills will be investigated.

 


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