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For the week of Apr. 12 through Apr. 18, 2000

Court allows chamber funding

Ketchum’s contract deemed constitutional


"This agreement is more akin to a contract for the services of a professional engineer, which is clearly within the authority of a municipality."

- Judge J. William Hart, Fifth District Court


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

The city of Ketchum has survived a court challenge to its funding of the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce.

Fifth District Court Judge J. William Hart dismissed two legal actions filed by local citizen Craven Young and by a group calling themselves the "Burdened Tax Payers."

The plaintiffs had asked for a writ of prohibition forbidding the city to make its semi-annual payment to the chamber of $157,500. The contract for the distribution of tourist information and marketing services is funded by Ketchum’s local option tax.

The plaintiffs claimed the contract violates three clauses of the Idaho Constitution prohibiting municipalities from "loaning its credit" to any "association."

However, Hart ruled that the contract is not an extension of credit, and is constitutional.

"This agreement is more akin to a contract for the services of a professional engineer, which is clearly within the authority of a municipality," Hart wrote in an opinion released on March 31.

In addition to ruling on the substantive issues, Hart also granted a motion for summary judgment made by the city on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit.

Hart wrote that the Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that merely being a taxpayer does not give a person sufficient "personal stake" in a city’s actions to take it to court.

In an interview, Young expressed disappointment in the court’s dismissal of the actions.

"This ruling prevents the opportunity to present the facts relative to corruption and conflict of interest," Young said.

Young, who represented himself, said he is uncertain of whether he will take the matter further. The other plaintffs’ attorney, Ray Pena, could not be reached for comment.

 

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