The Ketchum City Council voted unanimously Monday to give $6,000 to the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance to help defray the organization’s rent costs for the Ketchum-Sun Valley Visitor Center.
A decision was reached after SVMA President Arlene Schieven told the council the organization is getting a very low return on the 1,000-square-foot portion it rents at a building on Sun Valley Road.
“The rent is only a small part of the cost,” Schieven said. “The maintenance is also a hefty burden and the cost of serving the visitors is much higher than it should be.”
Schieven said the SVMA is actively working with Ketchum Community Development and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz to pursue new options to offset the costs, one of which includes possibly getting a co-tenant for the building. The primary tenant is a Starbucks coffeehouse
SVMA co-chair Marty Albertson emphatically bemoaned the situation, which is owned by the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency.
“As a board, we’re charged with spending money by taxpayers in the most efficient and productive way we can,” Albertson said. “Currently, we spend $30,000 on rent for roughly 10-12 people a day over the course of a season. It’s an exorbitant amount of money for the return we’re getting.”
Schieven said the maintenance costs have been $3,000 more than the SVMA planned on spending.
Councilman Jim Slanetz said he hopes the SVMA and the URA can come to a better, more equitable agreement for both sides.
“Since the start of this, there’s an extreme sensitivity that people would hate to see their tax dollars subsidize Starbucks,” Slanetz said.
Schieven said the 1,000 square feet the SVMA has is more than is what’s actually needed, and could be cut to 500 square feet instead.
Eric Avissar: email@example.com