Friday, October 26, 2012

Sun Valley delays recreation contract

Relationship between cities dysfunctional, at best


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

The relationship between the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley has become strained to the point of dysfunction.

During a Sun Valley City Council meeting on Thursday, Oct. 18, the council members voted unanimously to delay the approval of a $20,000 contract with Ketchum for recreational services. Furthermore, Councilman Nils Ribi said at the meeting that he would no longer meet with Ketchum’s currently elected officials. Ribi is the second member of the Sun Valley City Council to make this assertion, the other being council President Bob Youngman on Oct. 2.

“I concur with council President Youngman’s assessment of no longer attending any meetings with Ketchum, their councilmen or mayor as long as those current officials are in office,” Ribi said. “It’s just not something that we need to be subjected to.”

At the meeting, Youngman said he would like to see more detailed documentation of the “actual services” that would be rendered to Sun Valley by Ketchum before he would approve the recreation contract. The other council members agreed and voted unanimously to postpone the discussion until the council’s next meeting on Nov. 1.

Sun Valley contributes funds to Ketchum for recreational services since it does not have its own parks and recreation department. This year’s as-yet-unapproved contract states that this arrangement avoids “duplication” of those services and is in Sun Valley’s “best interest” since its citizens use Ketchum’s parks.

 However, beginning last year, Sun Valley has reduced its contributions to Ketchum for recreation services. According to Sun Valley City Treasurer Angela Walls, the city gave Ketchum $20,000 in fiscal 2012, down from $30,000 contributed in both fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2010.

During an Oct. 15 joint meeting of the two cities’ councils, Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall listed that reduction as one of many partnership agreements between the cities that Sun Valley has recently “reneged.”

“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,” he said.

The city of Sun Valley voted Aug. 16 to reduce its fiscal 2013 contribution to the Marketing Alliance from $356,000 to $256,000. The cities had agreed in fall 2010 to each contribute $400,000 per year to that organization. At the meeting last Thursday, Sun Valley approved a fiscal 2013 contract with Mountain Rides for $250,000, down from $275,000 in fiscal 2012 and $300,000 in fiscal 2011. Hall said Ketchum taxpayers have had to pick up some of Sun Valley’s slack.

Sun Valley Mayor DeWayne Briscoe said at the Oct. 18 meeting that Sun Valley’s contribution to Ketchum for recreational services should not have been lumped in with Sun Valley’s partnership concerning the Marketing Alliance and Mountain Rides.

“This is a voluntary contribution by the city of Sun Valley to the city of Ketchum with the acknowledgement that our citizens do use Ketchum facilities, but it is not similar to Mountain Rides, where it’s a joint powers agreement thing,” he said. “It’s not similar to marketing in which we have some basic agreements.”

Briscoe said the contract for recreation services is “essentially a gift” from Sun Valley to Ketchum.

“I’m offended that [Hall] complains about it,” Councilman Franz Suhadolnik said.

In an interview Thursday, Hall said Ketchum is upset that Sun Valley has “backed off” of its commitments to Ketchum.

“The city of Ketchum is disappointed in the fact that these guys are going backward, not forward,” he said. “Reneging on these contracts is a problem for Ketchum and it should be a problem for Ketchum. It’s unfortunate, period.”

Hall said he didn’t want to “pour more gasoline on the fire,” but said many Sun Valley citizens have apologized to him for the recent Marketing Alliance and Mountain Rides funding cuts made by Sun Valley’s elected officials.

“I’m not sure how happy the community of Sun Valley is with their elected officials,” he said.


City approves Housing Authority contract

The Sun Valley City Council on Thursday, Oct. 18, unanimously approved a $5,000 contract for fiscal 2013 with the Blaine County Housing Authority. Sun Valley contributed $4,965 to the Housing Authority last year and $5,000 in fiscal 2011.


Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com

 




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