Friday, September 21, 2012

Marketing Alliance responds to blog

Councilman’s post said Ketchum not paying ‘fair share’


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance reacted this week to an online blog post written by Sun Valley City Councilman Nils Ribi on Aug. 29.

In his blog, Ribi states that the post is a response to “recent criticism” of the City Council’s unexpected Aug. 16 vote to cut the city’s fiscal year 2013 commitment to the Marketing Alliance from $356,000 to $250,000.

“Since the beginning of the SVMA, the City of Sun Valley has been paying significantly more than its fair share and the City of Ketchum has not,” Ribi wrote. “City of Ketchum officials have known for over two years that we would be moving to a more relational budget allocation. This has been clearly and consistently stated up front and followed with associated actions as reflected in the reduction in FY2012 and FY2013 City funding to SVMA.”

In fiscal 2012, the city of Sun Valley lowered its commitment to the Marketing Alliance for the first time. The city reduced appropriations for the Marketing Alliance from $400,000—the amount both Ketchum and Sun Valley each originally agreed to contribute toward marketing the area outside of Blaine County—to $356,000.

As far back as June 2010, some Sun Valley City Council members said they wanted to reduce the city’s support of the Marketing Alliance. At a June 28, 2010, City Council meeting, Councilman (now Council President) Bob Youngman said “governments funding marketing is inappropriate.”

“I will support [Sun Valley’s contribution to marketing] going to zero in three to five years,” he said.

On Thursday, Marketing Alliance Board President Jake Peters, Ketchum’s representative on the Marketing Alliance board, stated in an email to the Express that none of Sun Valley’s three representatives—over the past two years—on the Marketing Alliance board were “aware” that their city planned to reduce or eliminate funding of the organization.

“It seems quite odd,” he states in the email.

Brooke Wojcik, Sun Valley’s current representative on the Marketing Alliance board, said Thursday that she recently found out Sun Valley’s ultimate goal was to reduce funding to zero. 

“I was aware that the city wanted to lower the funding. I had heard that was the intent, but I was not informed before the vote that they were going to do so,” she said. “What was shocking to me is that I was told recently the intention is to lower funding to zero. I had never heard that before.”

Wojcik said that she was particularly surprised the Sun Valley City Council voted to lower its contribution to the Marketing Alliance by $100,000 before the organization had secured other stable sources of funding.

Ribi’s blog post points the finger toward Ketchum for not paying its “fair share.” He states the Marketing Alliance demonstrates “continued denial” and “lack of responsibility” for not being prepared for Ketchum’s “failure” to meet its responsibilities.

“Ketchum is not contributing its fair share to the general area marketing efforts,” Ribi writes.

Peters disagreed, stating in his email that at the proposed level of funding commitments, Ketchum funds the Marketing Alliance at “nearly twice” the level of Sun Valley.

“Yet each city has one board representative,” Peters states. “Is that fair?”

Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall did not return phone calls seeking comment by press time Thursday. However, he has repeatedly expressed disappointment in Sun Valley’s decision to cut funding during recent Ketchum City Council meetings.

Peters further states that Ribi’s post indicates a “lack of awareness” of what the Marketing Alliance is charged with doing.

“It seems to me that SVMA’s principal job is to get new tourists to come to ‘Sun Valley,” Peters states in the email. “New tourists generate new revenue which recoups local-option taxes. On that basis any reasonable assessment of the two cities’ economies would show that the tourism-related revenue split is quite similar and that the significant majority of incremental tax revenue inures to the City of Sun Valley.”

Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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