Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ketchum approves $23K fire audit

McGrath to follow up on 2007 study


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Concerned that the value of Ketchum’s Fire Department is not appreciated by some neighboring jurisdictions and expressing a desire to discover how the city might also improve it, elected officials have approved a $22,850 audit of the department.

The study will be conducted by Illinois-based McGrath Consulting Group, a firm hired by the city in partnership with the city of Sun Valley in 2007 to analyze whether consolidation of the cities’ fire departments might save money without compromising emergency services. Following that study, McGrath recommended consolidation.

The Ketchum City Council voted 3-0 to hire McGrath again at a council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19. Councilman Baird Gourlay, who was not present at that meeting, had suggested the idea of revisiting the 2007 study at a council meeting Nov. 19.

Gourlay said then that Ketchum is “massively subsidizing” Sun Valley’s department. Sun Valley Councilman Nils Ribi responded by saying the subsidy was the other way around and that the McGrath study had flaws.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, Ketchum Councilman Jim Slanetz said Sun Valley officials don’t put “much weight” in the 2007 study. Councilwoman Nina Jonas asked Fire Chief Mike Elle if the study would enable the city to “put a retail number” on the emergency services it provides to other entities. Elle said it would.

“McGrath is a nationally accepted consultant,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

He said that regardless of how other entities feel about the study, it will also help Ketchum improve its own department. He also said hiring McGrath again is an efficient use of taxpayer money since the firm is familiar with the city.

Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com

 

 




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