Friday, June 3, 2011

To change or not to change?

Ketchum forms committee to study different types of government


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Gary Marks

Before citizens make up their minds about whether to change Ketchum's form of government, they should have detailed and impartial information to make their decisions, city leaders say.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the formation of an advisory committee in an effort to inform and educate the public.

"The point of the committee is to look at all the options," City Administrator Gary Marks said.

Ketchum operates under a "strong mayor" form of government, in which an elected mayor is the city's administrative officer. Another form of government allowed under state statute is the council-manager form, in which the administrative officer is a hired city manager.

The idea of switching to a council-manager form of government has been floated intermittently for years, and has recently been revived. Council members and the mayor agreed during a meeting last month to launch a public education campaign. The advisory committee will pursue that goal.

The committee will have seven members, including one council member. The mayor will nominate members and the council will ratify the nominations.

Mayor Randy Hall will compile a list of names for consideration in the coming weeks.

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City staff will be able to advise the committee but cannot serve as members.

Councilman Baird Gourlay said he is not in favor of the change, adding that he believes there is a very limited number of people who want a new form of government. He supported forming the committee, however, in order to educate people.

Councilmen Curtis Kemp and Larry Helzel emphasized the need for an impartial committee and objected to appointing Ketchum resident Anne Corrock, who previously stated her interest in serving on the committee, because of her activism supporting the council-manager form of government.

Corrock spoke up at the meeting, telling the council she feels she wouldn't be a good fit for the type of committee being created.

"I am withdrawing my name," she said. "I am moving in a different direction."

The committee will be tasked with multiple functions, according to the resolution approved by the council. Among them are: Analyze the two types of city government; consider a potential hybrid governmental form; evaluate potential changes to Idaho code relevant to modifying the form of government and what might need to be done in the 2012 legislative session to facilitate the change; develop recommendations; and write a detailed report on findings.

The committee is to issue recommendations to the council no later than Oct. 31, at which time the committee will disband.

The resolution allows for the allocation of $5,000 from the general fund for the committee's work.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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