Friday, February 20, 2009

Ketchum cuts staff to meet budget

Cuts designed to save almost $600,000

Express Staff Writer

The city of Ketchum made a number of layoffs as part of an effort to reduce expenditures during the economic slowdown.

Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall announced yesterday that nearly $600,000 will be saved by eliminating four staff positions, along with budget cuts in every department, reductions in payments to non-profit organizations, and 10 percent salary reductions for Hall and City Council members.

Positions eliminated included that of Building Inspector Tim Abbott, Public Information Officer/Special Events Coordinator Kim Rogers, Legal Assistant Barbi Ross and Community Service Officer Joan Loubot.

"We went back to the table and made some very hard decisions in the toughest of economic times," Mayor Hall said in a press release. "We are making these changes now in the best interest of the city and the public we serve. Like every town in Idaho, we face much less revenue with which to operate."

City Administrator Gary Marks estimated last week that the city was facing an approximate gap of $600,000 between revenue and expenditures, largely due to a sharp drop in local option tax receipts.

Hall said that the layoffs would lead to savings of $102,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The 3 percent reductions from all city departments will save another $287,000, payments to the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, Mountain Rides and the Ketchum Community Development Corporation will be reduced by a total of $77,000, and there will also be $120,000 in savings from reduced insurance premiums. Combined, this will cut city expenditures by $586,000.

In addition, the city has implemented a freeze on salaries and will keep five vacant positions unfilled. Marks estimated that the three vacancies in the Police Department, including chief, could save the city over $300,000 for the fiscal year.

Hall said in an interview Thursday that the staff cuts were the final portion of the calculation to rebalance the budget, and that the personnel decisions took into account the salaries and required work loads of the employees in question.

"We looked as how busy our staff was and where we weren't being as productive," Hall said. "We don't have very much building going on; we have almost no special events, especially with the cancellation of 48 Straight; with our contract for legal services Barbi (Ross) was underutilized; and we aren't seeing as much tourism to warrant a third Community Service Officer."

Hall said that he doesn't believe that this layer of cuts will negatively impact the level of city services.

"Hopefully this is all that's needed for now, but we have to look at contingencies if the situation continues to worsen," Hall said.

Jon Duval:

Bringing the budget in line

· $287,000: 3-percent budget cuts from all city departments.

· $120,000: Reduction in insurance premiums.

· $102,000: Elimination of four staff positions.

· $77,000: Reductions in payments to local agencies.

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