Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chamber aims for $1.2 million budget

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau is asking the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum to keep their contributions steady to maintain the current budget for next year.

At a Ketchum City Council meeting Monday, Executive Director Carol Waller said the organization would be requesting $290,000 from Ketchum, just $1,4000 less than it got from the city during the current fiscal year.

According to the chamber's draft budget, it will request that Sun Valley maintain its current contribution of $321,000.

The money would be part of a proposed $1.2 million budget for fiscal 2010, a little less than the chamber's current budget of $1.3 million. The chamber has stated that it has lost about $131,000 from various grants.

Along with city contracts for service, the chamber's other major sources of funding include a grant from the Idaho Travel Council and chamber membership fees.

While Waller acknowledged that the cities have been facing declining revenues, especially in the form of a significant decrease in local-option tax receipts, she argued that a tough economy is a time to ramp up marketing as competitors reduce this kind of spending.

"Marketing is a generator of revenue, not a cost," Waller said.

The Ketchum council members did not give any hint as to whether they will approve the requested amount during budget hearings in August.

However, Council President Baird Gourlay said the recent transitions taking place within Sun Valley Co., including Tim Silva's replacing Wally Huffman as general manager of the resort and Peter Stearns' taking over as mountain manager, could mean a new direction for the resort and the area in general.

"I think we have a wonderful opportunity with the 'new' Sun Valley," Gourlay said.

Silva, who was in attendance, did not comment on any changes at the resort, but he did emphasize the importance of investing in tourism promotion.

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