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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.
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For the week of March 12 - 18, 2003

Editorials

Ketchum’s hypocrisy


The city of Ketchum tried to stare down the cost of housing in the Wood River Valley—and blinked.

After its long-time city administrator, police chief, fire chief and planner retired, the city recruited people to fill the vacancies. The city had turned down one opportunity after another to create housing affordable for people with jobs. Yet, it found that the high cost of housing in the valley was an obstacle to hiring.

This was no surprise to local businesses that have been telling the city about the problem for years—to no avail.

The surprise was that the city did what the majority of local businesses cannot do. It decided to pay more.

The city didn’t tell applicants to commute from homes in Twin Falls or Shoshone. It didn’t tell them they might never own a home.

In a valley in which the median household income is around $50,500—often produced by two income earners—the city is paying an average of $86,666 a year to the administrator, police chief and planner, a 23 percent jump over its previous average.

The old salaries were probably too low, but the increase is a whopper in an economy that is iffy at best.

The city justifies the new salaries as comparable to those in Colorado resort towns. But Ketchum is not a Colorado resort.

In 1997, the last time a national economic survey was undertaken, Pitkin County, Colo. (Aspen) reported an annual payroll 75 percent larger than Blaine County’s.

Ketchum solved its own employee housing problem by pushing the cost off on taxpayers—including businesses that cannot push the same costs onto their customers.

 

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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.