Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sun Valley approves $380K for marketing

Council: Where did this winterís marketing money go?

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley followed Ketchum's lead and approved a $380,000 contract Thursday, Dec. 16, with the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance, hiring the alliance to promote the northern valley's resort area for one year. Combined with the cities' $20,000 to kickstart the alliance, Ketchum and Sun Valley have guaranteed it a total of $800,000.

However, before it approved the contract, the Sun Valley City Council had questions for its previous and longtime marketer—the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, now part of the alliance—about how it used $80,00 granted by the city for the final quarter of last fiscal year, July 1 to Sept. 30. The council asked the question because even though it had contracted with the chamber to plan winter marketing before the fiscal year's end, none has been seen.

Chamber Treasurer Scott Desserault said the chamber was "explicitly told" not to do winter marketing because the new organization, now called the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance, would take over.

Councilman Nils Ribi asserted that the Sun Valley council never directed as much and asked for Desserault to point out who said the chamber would not do winter marketing and when. Desserault was not treasurer until this fiscal year, but said former chamber Executive Director Carol Waller said she was under the clear impression from Ketchum and Sun Valley that the ball was being handed over to the new marketing organization.

Ribi claimed Sun Valley never gave such a directive.

"And we were blamed for no winter marketing even though we were still funding the chamber up to Oct. 1," Ribi said.

So, where did Ketchum and Sun Valley's combined $152,000 go to fund the chamber's fourth quarter? Desserault acknowledged that the cities' yearly funding is supposed to be used that same year, but said about $70,000 was rolled over into this fiscal year as a "contingency" because future funding was "very unknown."

Alliance President Jake Peters said the chamber has been using this contingency money at the rate of $20,000 a month since Oct. 1 to operate the visitor center and its chamber-of-commerce duties while it waits for the cities to hand over funding for the alliance.

"We continued to consume that because we haven't gotten any money yet," Peters said.

"If you're burning through 20 grand a month, then you're about done," replied Councilwoman Joan Lamb.

Peters responded by jokingly leaving his chair and kneeling on the carpeted floor with his hands clasped in a begging motion.

Ribi said he doesn't approve of the chamber's rolling over the money into this fiscal year because the city was paying for a service it didn't get. Councilman Bob Youngman said that may be true but "a lot was going on," and he could understand why and how it was done.

The discussion ended with the city's asking for the chamber's financial records from July 1, showing where each dollar came from and where it was spent.

"Our books are wide open to you," Desserault said.

Trevon Milliard:

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