Council votes to enter chamber agreement
Valley growth on the minds of citizens
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Amidst a flurry of public comments from both sides of the issue, the
Ketchum City Council voted unanimously Monday night to contract with the Sun
Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce for the 1999/2000 fiscal year.
Additionally, Ketchum city officials voted to hire highway consultant
Darrell Wilburn, from Darlington, Idaho, to further look into the Idaho Transportation
Departments proposed Highway 75 expansion plans and to potentially offer
It was a night rife with concerns from local residents on the Wood
River Valleys booming growth. Impacts from an expanded highway (or problems
connected with the existing highway) and the economic growth the chamber of commerce can
influence were among the growth-oriented topics discussed.
Resort growth nationwide is startling, chamber of commerce executive
director Carol Waller told the council. She also said, in defense of the chamber contract,
that the Wood River Valleys amenities are the result of the areas tourist
Not everyone at the meeting agreed.
"You dont need tourists anymore," Ketchum resident Fred
White said. "Lets encourage non-tourism-type businesses in here."
The $346,000 chamber contract, to provide visitor information,
marketing and promotion of the Sun Valley area, has been hotly contested by Ketchum
residents Craven Young and Jake Jacoby, and on Monday night by approximately 15 additional
Young has been the driving force behind the anti-contract-signing
movement. In a telephone interview, Young said he does not have a problem with the
chamber, only with the city giving taxpayers money to fund marketing and visitor
He told the city council he fully intends on filing a suit in Fifth
District Court in Hailey to overturn the city councils decision.
In the interview, Young, a law school graduate and local activist,
cited three legal bases he will stand on in court. He said the Idaho Constitution, Article
8, section 4; Article 12, section 4; and the enabling legislation of the local option tax
(LOT) are enough for a judge to take the city to task for its chamber contract.
Article 8, section 4 of the constitution reads that no city "shall
lend or pledge the credit or faith thereof" to any "individual, association or
Article 12, section 4 states that no city shall "make donation or
loan its credit" to "any joint stock company, corporation or association
However Ketchum city attorney Margaret Simms said the two
constitutional articles do not pertain to the citys contract with the chamber of
Its a matter of two different interpretations of the law.
Young called the citys chamber contract a "Robin Hood in
He said the option tax, the proceeds of which the city uses to contract
with the chamber, is a regressive tax that charges the poor more than the rich in light of
their respective annual incomes. To use that money to market the Sun Valley area, he said,
is to help pad the wallets of large players like Sun Valley Co. and Elkhorn Resort.
Young pointed out that the LOTs enabling legislation requires a
municipality to fund a property-tax relief coffer with excess LOT revenues, a cache that
has gone without funding in the city of Ketchum.
Simms, as confident that her interpretation of the law is as valid as
Youngs, said she welcomes the opportunity to argue the case in court.
In voting to approve the contract, Councilwoman Chris Potters said
shes sorry residents didnt speak out earlier in the citys August budget
"Its awfully hard to spend your money when youre not
here to tell us what you want," she told the residents in attendance.
Ketchum resident and Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission member
Baird Gourlay reflected, "I just wish everyone would lighten up."
On the highway consultant front, Ketchum officials voted 3 to 1, with
Councilwoman Sue Noel against, to pay consultant Wilburn $9,600 to accomplish four tasks
in the coming weeks.
According to city planning administrator Lisa Horowitz, Wilburn will
look into how maintaining a three-lane highwaywith center and side turn
lanesthrough the valley will affect congestion. He will also look into what would
happen if drivers are merged from two to one lane as they enter Ketchum. Third, he will
examine parking in Ketchum, and fourth, he will look into the timing of the traffic lights
Bellevue resident Rob Mays cautioned the council to be careful to
consider how north valley decisions will affect the south valley.
He said the existing two-lane highway is severely inadequate, backing
up traffic as far as Hailey on holiday weekends.
Another Bellevue resident, Jay Coleman also spoke in favor of highway
"If we truly wish a two-lane highway to accommodate the valley,
years ago, we would have engaged in a slow-growth policy," he said.