Friday, June 30, 2006

Sun Valley leaders favor YMCA over Chamber

Express Staff Writer

After an all-day work session Wednesday, June 28, the Sun Valley City Council agreed to move forward with a $50,000 contribution to the Wood River Community YMCA in the 2006-2007 fiscal budget. The plan calls to shift funds away from the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau to fund the Ketchum YMCA.

"We aren't raising your taxes, but we are making sure we are a sound resort community, providing recreation, not only for our visitors, but for the people we want to live here," Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson said.

Thorson pushed the council to meet the YMCA's request for a $100,000 commitment from the 2006-2007 budget, which ultimately asked for $500,000 over five years.

Councilman Nils Ribi proposed the council should commit $50,000 in 2006-2007 and increase its financial commitments over the next five years to meet a $500,000 contribution.

Ribi's proposal would fund the contribution through local option tax revenues rather than property taxes. Specifically, the YMCA funding would from $225,000 in additional LOT revenues received from Elkhorn Golf Club memberships this year

An estimated 95 percent of LOT funds are derived from tourism.

"I consider the Y a tourist amenity," Councilwoman Ann Agnew said. The council agreed the YMCA would further develop the city's tourist economy in the long run.

The city's multi-year budget through the 2010-2011 fiscal year allocates $1.9 million to recreational amenities like pocket parks, trails and trailheads.

The YMCA funding discussion prompted the council to re-evaluate distribution and collection of LOT revenues. The council agreed to reallocate $50,000 previously budgeted to the chamber fund to the YMCA.

The council also requested that Sun Valley re-evaluate, with the city of Ketchum, a longstanding informal agreement that agrees both cities contribute 25 percent of LOT revenues to the chamber.

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