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For the week of January 9 - 15, 2002


Hutchinson’s business wrap-up draws protests

Retiring city administrator to receive $25,000

Express Staff Writer

In the waning hours of his administration, former Ketchum Mayor David Hutchinson pushed through several hotly opposed initiatives, including a $25,000 bonus for the city’s retiring administrator.

The meeting started just 45 minutes before the scheduled swearing in of Mayor Ed Simon, and citizens who attended said Hutchinson’s last minute business should have been left for Simon and the new city council to complete.

The protests obviously aggravated Hutchinson, who at one point declared, "Whatever," in response to citizen protests.

Councilman Maurice Charlat agreed with the protesters on two of Hutchinson’s three approved agenda items: the bonus for City Administrator Jim Jaquet and a decision to re-appoint Peter Ripsom to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission.

On both issues, Charlat made motions that would have put off consideration until later in the year. Both motions failed without seconds.

The third of Hutchinson’s last-minute accomplishments included adoption of a new electricity franchise agreement between the city and Idaho Power Co. The new agreement will direct funds gained from a 1 percent franchise fee toward burying power lines. The agreement, the first in more than five years, received unanimous approval.

"This is a very comprehensive agreement," said Dan Olmstead, of the Idaho Power Community Relations Department.

Olmstead said negotiations with Ketchum, six year in all, were the longest it’s had with any city in Idaho.

But the city administrator retirement bonus, called a "performance incentive" in city jargon, was the most hotly debated of Hutchinson’s final business.

"We felt that Jim Jaquet, in the 25 years he’s been here, he’s first under-compensated himself during the years he’s been here," Hutchinson said. "He’s also agreed to stay beyond the time he thought he’d be here to help train a new city administrator."

Citizens, who packed the city’s meeting chamber, said Jaquet might deserve the bonus, but the last-minute nature of the action prompts increased scrutiny.

"I don’t agree with the process," Bepe Dolsot of Ketchum said.

Marie Matthews, also of Ketchum, called the last-minute nature of the decison "outrageous."

"I think to go out on this type of note is a crime, quite frankly," she said.

Hutchinson explained that contemplation of a "performance incentive" for Jaquet first occurred several months previously in an executive session. The money is available because of a $21,194 workman’s compensation dividend check that wasn’t anticipated in this year’s budget.

Charlat’s failed motion would have put the issue off until Feb. 4 for further examination by council members and the new mayor.

"I will have you know I am in favor of the $25,000, but I don’t know where it’s coming from," he said.

The bonus passed, with Charlat voting against it.

Councilwoman Chris Potters elaborated on her affirmative vote.

"This is a man who deserves this, and we’re not talking about a ton of money," she said. "It’s less than I would like to do."

Jaquet said he will stay at city hall until a new city administrator is hired and trained, or until this spring.

Citizens opposed the re-appointment of Ripsom to the P&Z because they said Simon should select the appointed officials who will serve in his administration. Ripsom, who was chairman of the P&Z, resigned last fall to fill in as a city councilman, when Hutchinson was appointed mayor to complete the term of Guy Coles, who died.

Hutchinson said he had promised Ripsom he would be re-appointed when he volunteered to serve on the city council.

"What we’re doing is, we made a promise to this man, and we’re going to keep it," Potters said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.