Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A tale of two cities?as one?

As much as some wish the Wood River Valley would remain unchanging, it won't.

As growth sweeps the valley, problems and their solutions become regional and less confined to a single community.

One thought for future discussion: Would merging the neighboring cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley into a single new municipal government provide citizens of both cities more economical use of resources and more efficient management?

Ketchum (population 3,100, operating budget $7.9 million) and Sun Valley (population 1,447, operating budget $3.2 million) duplicate services that could be combined (streets, police, fire, planning and zoning).

Joint role sharing is not new for the cities. They both fund KART bus service and jointly own the sewer plant.

An abrasive new dispute affecting both cities is now emerging that illustrates the downside of municipal competition: Which city will annex the Sun Valley Co.'s River Run property.

Sun Valley has understandable paternal interests in the resort, Sun Valley's largest employer and property owner. But Ketchum has a more natural claim because of geographical proximity to River Run.

Because similar issues are likely to become common, consolidating municipal government should be a natural topic of study by those with an over-the-horizon vision of how best to handle the future with precious resources.

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