Editor’s note: This story is part of a series devoted to the city of Sun Valley’s proposed budget for fiscal 2020.
Sun Valley City Administrator Susan Robertson will depart her job with the city government on Aug. 2 to begin a new job with the city of Augusta, Maine.
Robertson has been the city administrator in Sun Valley since January 2013 and replaced former City Administrator Sharon Hammer.
Robertson said her new job will be as the assistant city administrator and head of human resources. Augusta is the state capital of Maine and had a population of 18,681 residents in 2018.
Robertson came toSun Valley after working as the manager of Fox Point, Wis., since 1995.
The City Council and Mayor Peter Hendricks plan to hire an interim executive director to handle Robertson’s duties. The budget for fiscal 2019, which ends Sept. 30, includes $28,040 for an interim city administrator. The budget for fiscal 2020 includes $27,040 for the interim position.
The city also plans to hire an executive search firm to conduct the process to find Robertson’s replacement.
The council met for a special meeting Monday morning to wrap up the city’s spending levels in the fiscal 2020 budget.
The council started Monday with a proposed general fund budget of $5,999,344, up 3 percent from the $5,753,973 general fund in the fiscal 2019 budget.
The council made some changes to the city’s expected spending during a four-hour meeting Monday and was set to meet Tuesday afternoon to put the finishing touches on the document. The council has two special meetings in August, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 12, devoted to adopting the budget, which requires three readings to take effect.
Major points of debate Monday focused on funding for Mountain Rides Transportation Authority, Visit Sun Valley, a planned renovation of Sun Valley City Hall and investing in a new fire engine pumper-tanker, among many other subjects.
The council agreed, with Councilman Keith Saks dissenting, to provide about $352,000
to Mountain Rides in fiscal 2020.
The transportation organization requested that amount, which would be an increase from the $322,350 it received from Sun Valley in fiscal 2019.
The money will help offset a possible cut in Mountain Rides’ funding from the city of Ketchum. In Mayor Neil Bradshaw’s budget proposal, Ketchum’s funding of Mountain Rides would drop from $665,000 in fiscal 2019 to $600,000 in fiscal 2020. The cut is needed to balance the city’s budget for next year, Bradshaw has said.
Saks and his fellow council members were displeased about stepping in to fill the gap Ketchum may create.
“We’ll be called on to make up
the difference each year,” Saks said.
“That’s not fair to our taxpayers.”
Councilwoman Mi-chelle Griffith said she didn’t want Ketchum’s funding cut to affect routes in the city of Sun Valley. The Blue Route runs between Warm Springs and the Sun Valley Village and has been mentioned as a possible target for service-hour curtailments if Ketchum’s cutback is adopted.
“They have made no attempt to address a structural deficit in their spending,” Griffith said of the Ketchum City Council. “Their citizens aren’t aware of what their council is doing. There are ways to affect service in Ketchum without affecting us.”
The council pledged to provide $320,000 to Visit Sun Valley, up from $294,000 in fiscal 2019. The organization would see its funding from Ketchum decrease from $440,000 to $400,000, though that does not include the revenue that Visit Sun Valley receives from Ketchum’s 1 Percent for Air tax. That tax may net $2,221,861 in 2020 in Ketchum and is split between Fly Sun Valley Alliance and Visit Sun Valley.
The council favored spending close to $800,000 on a new fire engine pumper-tanker for the Sun Valley Fire Department, which would replace two fire engines. The council did not decide on whether to pay for the full cost of the vehicle up front or to use a lease-purchase option.
The council supported $25,000 to do planning for a new fire station, which will help determine the amount of space needed and help target suitable locations in Sun Valley.
The council did support spending about $99,000 on remodeling City Hall next year but did not support the full $727,000 project.
“$99,000 could sure make it look a little bit better,” Councilwoman Jane Conard said.