Two members of the Sun Valley City Council boycotted a joint meeting of the Ketchum and Sun Valley city councils Monday night at Ketchum City Hall. The joint meeting was scheduled so the cities could simultaneously receive a quarterly report from the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance.
Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe, Councilwoman Michelle Griffith and Councilman Nils Ribi made an appearance, but Councilmen Bob Youngman and Franz Suhadolnik did not, leaving Sun Valley without enough council members at the meeting to form a quorum.
“We are here as individual elected officials of the city of Sun Valley,” Briscoe said. “We are not here as a city council.”
The two cities have partnered to hire the Marketing Alliance to promote the Sun Valley area externally since fall 2010. However, the partnership has been stressed by an Aug. 16 decision of the Sun Valley City Council—led by council President Youngman—to reduce its fiscal 2013 funding of the organization from $356,000 to $256,000.
During a special council meeting on Sept. 20, Youngman, Suhadolnik and Ribi voted to not receive the Marketing Alliance’s quarterly report jointly with the Ketchum City Council during fiscal 2013. However, the joint meeting Monday was scheduled as part of the cities’ 2012 contract with the Marketing Alliance, and Briscoe said at an Oct. 2 Sun Valley council meeting that he wanted to honor that contractual obligation. He said he would attend the joint meeting Monday whether or not enough Sun Valley council members arrived to form a quorum.
During the Oct. 2 meeting, Youngman called Ketchum’s attitude “bad” and said he would never set foot in the Ketchum City Council chambers again. Suhadolnik also said he would not attend.
“I do not boycott City Council meetings,” Ribi stated in an Oct. 1 email to the Idaho Mountain Express.
Ribi said in the email that if the joint meeting were not canceled, he would attend.
At the meeting Monday, Briscoe said Ribi should be commended for showing up because he has a perfect City Council meeting attendance record. Briscoe also said that cooperation between the two cities was “strong” in terms of fire, police and emergency response.
“I want to stress positive cooperation,” he said. “If there’s a fire in your city tonight, the Sun Valley Fire Department will be there.”
Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall thanked Briscoe, Griffith and Ribi for attending the meeting, but expressed Ketchum’s frustration toward Sun Valley’s failure to hold up its end of the cities’ partnership to hire the Marketing Alliance. Hall also said Sun Valley has recently reduced its contribution to other partnership agreements with Ketchum, including its support of the Mountain Rides transportation service.
“To imply that everything is OK is a bit of an exaggeration,” Hall said. “Over the past few years, Sun Valley has shorted Ketchum almost $300,000, including lowering its commitments to the Marketing Alliance, Mountain Rides and the Ketchum Parks Department.”
Hall said Ketchum taxpayers have had to pick up some of Sun Valley’s slack.
“In fairness to our community, our council will be reevaluating all those relationships,” he said.
Briscoe said that he was at Ketchum City Hall on a “positive note,” but that he wasn’t implying all the areas of contention between the two cities have been agreed on.
“Maybe we can sit down sometime next week and begin discussing these things,” Hall responded.
Briscoe accepted Hall’s invitation.
In an interview after the meeting, Hall said he felt he had to express Ketchum’s position clearly to the Sun Valley council members “for the sake of everyone in the room.”
“I just couldn’t let them off the hook so easily,” he said.
Brennan Rego: firstname.lastname@example.org