The newest bad idea to come out of Ketchum City Hall could plunge local businesses into darkness.

Mayor Neil Bradshaw suggests cutting the city’s marketing budget in half, from $440,000 to $220,000, to find “balance” between marketing and paying to build a new fire station.

If Bradshaw prevails, the city could find itself on a greased slide to penury without the money to build a garage, let alone a new fire station.

Bradshaw’s proposal posits a false choice between fire services and marketing. It ignores the fact that the city of Ketchum lives or dies on revenue generated and collected by the business community in the form of the local-option sales tax.

The tax supplies roughly half of the city’s budget revenue. The other half comes from property taxes.

If Bradshaw is looking for budget savings, he should turn his calculator on the city’s administrative overhead that has increased sharply in recent years.

Ketchum’s economy is solely reliant on tourism. If visitors decrease, both business sales and sales-tax revenues fall. This would force the city to increase property taxes or cut spending to keep services running.

City governments are supposed to serve citizens and aid them in their endeavors, not impede them. Like it or not, Ketchum is in the destination resort business. It needs more marketing, not less, to keep it viable in a crowded resort universe.

Ketchum may already be on a glide path to being populated only by wealthy part-time retirees and very few shops, restaurants, services or cultural offerings.

City Hall should lean hard against that future and keep the lights on instead of reaching for the off switch.

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