Ketchum City Council members voted Monday to approve city contracts for tourism marketing, law enforcement and to support a partnership with Blaine County to develop sustainability initiatives.

The City Council approved a contract to give $250,000 to the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance—also known as Visit Sun Valley—to provide a variety of marketing services for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which started Oct. 1 and runs until Sept. 30, 2022. The sum—which includes an ongoing amount of $200,000 and a one-time allocation of $50,000—was previously approved in the city’s budget for the fiscal year.

Typically, Visit Sun Valley has focused on marketing the Sun Valley area to tourists and maintaining its visitor center in Ketchum. While marketing is still a major component of its mission, the organization is now also working to “manage” visitors, Executive Director Scott Fortner told the council on Monday. Because the Wood River Valley has experienced an influx of new residents and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Sun Valley is working to educate people about the area and how to be guests who blend well with the local mountain-town culture, he said.

Visit Sun Valley is finishing work on its winter marketing plan, Fortner said, and also plans to do research on tourist activity and travel patterns.

The contract for law enforcement will allocate approximately $1.57 million to Blaine County for the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The city has contracted with the Sheriff’s Office for the provision of law enforcement for numerous years as an alternative to having its own, independent police force.

Through the contract, the Sheriff’s Office will provide for law enforcement but not parking and code enforcement.

In addition, the city will allocate approximately $165,000 for equipment costs for law enforcement, including the replacement of two patrol vehicles. That money will be spent from the city’s Capital Improvement Plan fund.

All of the spending was approved in the city’s budget.

A second contract with Blaine County will provide approximately $86,000 to help pay for a new joint-funded Sustainability Program in the county. A city-county partnership will fund a full-time program manager to develop and implement valley-wide sustainability initiatives in areas such as clean energy, solid-waste reduction and water conservation.

The city and the county are each paying for half of the costs of the new program for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The total cost is approximately $173,000, with $90,000 going to the salary of the program manager.

Previously, the city relied on advice of the Ketchum Sustainability Advisory Committee and a contracted coordinator to conduct sustainability projects. Having a full-time “dedicated resource” for the city and county will streamline efforts to implement sustainability projects, a city staff report states.

The city’s portion of the cost was approved in the 2021-22 budget. 

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