Friday, September 23, 2011

City issues directives with contracts

Ketchum Community Development Corp. contract decision postponed

Express Staff Writer

Several agencies have secured one more year of funding from Ketchum, but some also got increased scrutiny and words of caution along with a contract.

At a City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 19, council members approved a $70,000 contract for services with the Blaine County Housing Authority, telling newly appointed Executive Administrator David Patrie not to get used to it.

"This may very well be the last year the city may be able to support the BCHA at this level," Councilman Larry Helzel said. "It's imperative the organization diversify its funding base."

The funding comes out of the city's in-lieu housing fund, which developers can pay into to avoid building affordable-housing units as set forth in the city's inclusionary zoning ordinance.

Ketchum has received no in-lieu funding for several years. During budget discussions this summer, Ketchum City Administrator Gary Marks told the council that the fund was at risk of being depleted in two years. It currently contains about $275,000.

Helzel suggested that the Housing Authority might need to find funding outside the valley.

"It's time for you and your group to get really creative," he said.

Patrie said he was up to the challenge.

"I will let you know that's priority No. 1," he said. "Stay tuned."

The council also agreed to support a future funding request from Michelle Griffith, executive director of Advocates for Real Community Housing, or ARCH, a nonprofit housing trust.

Though it's not a contract for services, the city agreed to earmark money in the in-lieu housing fund for the organization to pursue other community housing projects in Ketchum.

ARCH recently completed the renovation of a project at 209 Sabala St. The group returned $130,000 of in-lieu housing funds from the sale of that property, and asked for the same amount to begin another, similar project through the Open Door program. The program buys distressed properties and fixes them up for resale to qualified buyers.

In a letter to the city, Griffith described the pilot project on Sabala as a "resounding success."

Griffith said ARCH has several project options in mind but is not ready to release details yet.

"We would hope to have something in the works by the first of this new year," she said in an interview.

The council approved a contract for services with Fly Sun Valley Alliance in the amount of $25,000. The nonprofit organization works to support and improve air and ground access to the valley from key markets and raises funds to contribute to minimum revenue guarantees to airlines.

Helzel noted that the city still wants the group to work toward becoming a part of the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance. He told Eric Seder, president of Fly Sun Valley Alliance, during a budget meeting last month that the group's business model was unsustainable and it should eventually cease operations as an independent entity.

The city tabled approval of a contract for services with the Ketchum Community Development Corp., which is seeking a $116,400 contract. The city has funded the organization for the past four years.

"I'm a little bit disappointed what they're doing strategically outside of housing," Helzel said.

He said he wanted the Ketchum Community Development Corp. to have a better-defined plan, and said the city already is supporting housing through the Housing Authority and ARCH.

"I'd like to see them do other initiatives besides tax-credit housing deals," Helzel said.

Community Development Corp. Executive Director Jon Duval said in an interview that the organization is working on and has launched many other initiatives, and will present that information to the council on Monday, Oct. 3.

"We'll let them know we're working on more than (housing)," he said, though adding, "Housing is really important for the community."

Rebecca Meany:

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