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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of May 1 - 7, 2002


Bold move, bad policy

Maybe it was a case of bad timing, but it looked a lot more like a case in which Blaine County Commission Chair Mary Ann Mix tried to undermine the work of the Blaine County Housing Authority.

Last week, Mix attempted to replace Housing Authority Chair David Kipping.

With five years of service, Kipping is a stalwart volunteer who has labored long and hard to create mid-level housing affordable for working residents. He’s remained optimistic in the face of enormous hurdles and led support for housing in the controversial proposal for the Town Center office and housing development on Ketchum’s Main Street.

Kipping’s term expired in February, and he asked to be re-appointed.

Instead, Mix moved to appoint a wet-behind-the-ears newcomer to the issue. She said her nominee, the chief administrator of the county’s nursing home, would shift the focus of the authority toward housing for senior citizens.

Housing for senior citizens is fine and dandy¾except for one niggling detail. The Blaine County Housing Authority was created to find ways to provide housing for all residents¾not just seniors.

Mix’s wish to change the authority’s focus was misguided, not to mention totally out of line with the city of Ketchum, the partner that helps fund the authority.

If Mix’s bold move was an attempt to hand off the hot potato of the high cost of nursing home subsidies, it flopped on that count, too.

The move was dismissive of the fact that the high cost of housing relative to median incomes is one of the biggest problems facing businesses, government and families in the Wood River Valley.

Over the last 10 years, businesses and government have found it increasingly difficult to find and retain employees because of the high cost of housing.

A 1997 Housing Needs Assessment found that the valley needed 581 units of housing. The need has only increased in the five years since the study was completed.

Commissioners Sarah Michael and Dennis Wright voted to stop the benighted attempt to derail the housing authority. Mix, perhaps miffed, declined to vote on the issue and offered no explanation.

In the aftermath, Ketchum should rethink a move to disband its own Housing Advisory Committee. It should clearly define its interest in paying part of the salary of the Housing Authority administrator and providing office space.

Ketchum can’t afford to be left high and dry if the Housing Authority gets railroaded by county officials that don’t understand the many facets of the housing shortage.

Everyone in the county will suffer if the move to sweep housing problems under the rug succeeds.


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.