The Sun Valley City Council this week set its list of budget priorities for the remaining three years of Mayor Wayne Willich's term.
At a special meeting on Wednesday, the council approved a resolution to adopt both short- and long-term priorities.
The vote passed 2-1, with Councilwoman Joan Lamb voting against the resolution because of a disagreement over the city's five-acre parcel, otherwise known as the Festival Meadow. The public field is on the north side of Sun Valley Road, adjacent to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church.
Lamb requested that the development and implementation of a plan for the plot of land be labeled as a long-term priority.
"Do you really want to take this on in the next 12 months?" she said. "It's less of a priority than other services in the city."
While Lamb said the council's time and effort could be better spent on other projects, Councilmen Nils Ribi and Dewayne Briscoe disagreed, and went so far to move the issue into the short-term priority list to begin plans for the future of the parcel immediately.
Willich said that the beginning of the process would include creating a citizen's committee to look at possible developments for the land.
The mayor also said that his plans would differ from those of past administrations, which he said included a city hall and fire station to be shared by both Ketchum and Sun Valley. In order to pay for this, previous elected officials had neglected other necessary infrastructure projects, Willich said.
"Reserves were built and this helped pay for some improvements, such as the new fire engine," Willich said in an interview. "But there weren't any secondary streets paved and now we're paying for them."
During the meeting, former City Councilman Kevin Laird said expenditures were sometimes "leap-frogged" in order to stockpile funds for larger capital projects.
Willich said that with falling revenues, the city would likely look to ask residents to vote on a bond for upcoming capital projects. Included would be a new maintenance and sand-storage facility in Elkhorn, a fire station along Trail Creek Road, and improvements or a renovation to the existing city hall. The amount of the bond had yet to be determined, Willich said, noting that a new bond issue would not increase property taxes because an $8 million bond for paving major roads is set to expire in August.
"We have to convince the taxpayers that it's necessary infrastructure improvements that have been neglected," he said.
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