Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sun Valley to boycott joint meetings

Council does not want to discuss marketing with Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Randy Hall

Several members of the Sun Valley City Council said Thursday, Sept. 20, that they no longer wish to meet jointly with the Ketchum City Council to receive quarterly progress reports from the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance.

Sun Valley City Council President Bob Youngman said at a council meeting that he would prefer that the Marketing Alliance present its progress reports to each City Council separately and that he would boycott any upcoming joint meetings. The next joint meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe was out of the office Monday and Tuesday and could not be reached for comment by press time. However, Interim Executive Assistant to the Mayor Virginia Egger said Monday that Briscoe had sent her an email regarding the Oct. 15 meeting.

“My understanding is the mayor plans to honor the city’s fiscal 2012 contract with the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance by attending the upcoming progress report meeting with the Ketchum City Council,” Egger said. “He will notice this meeting as a joint meeting of the cities’ councils.”

Egger said that Briscoe will attend the meeting whether or not he can convince enough Sun Valley council members to go with him to form a quorum. However, at the Sept. 20 meeting Briscoe said it would be “embarrassing” to show up to a joint meeting without a quorum.

“If you’re going to boycott the meetings, we might as well not have them,” Briscoe said.

This is the latest in a series of Marketing-Alliance-related developments that have strained the relationship between Ketchum and Sun Valley. Since the fall of 2010, the two cities have been partners in hiring the Marketing Alliance to promote the Wood River Valley outside of Blaine County. 

During the second year of the partnership, Sun Valley lowered its fiscal 2012 commitment to the Marketing Alliance from $400,000 to $356,000. On Aug. 16, the partnership began to unravel further when the Sun Valley City Council unexpectedly voted to reduce its fiscal 2013 commitment to the Marketing Alliance from $356,000 to $250,000.

The Aug. 16 funding cut passed 3-1, with Councilwoman Michelle Griffith voting no. Griffith was also the only Sun Valley council member at the Thursday meeting to speak in favor of continuing the joint meetings.

“To the extent that [Sun Valley and Ketchum] can work together, it’s mutually beneficial,” Griffith said in an interview Monday. “This doesn’t imply combining cities, but for heaven’s sake, we should be able to work together.”

Griffith said that if Briscoe attends the joint meeting on Oct. 15, she will attend as well.

“I think it’s useful for each of the councils to hear what’s important to the other council,” Griffith said.

At the Sun Valley meeting, Youngman voiced a different opinion.

“I get nothing from a joint meeting that I couldn’t get if [the Marketing Alliance] were just addressing us,” Youngman said.

Marketing Alliance President and Chief Marketing Officer Arlene Schieven said in an interview on Monday that her preference would be to continue to conduct the meetings jointly.

“It’s definitely better to have everyone together in the same room at the same time,” Schieven said.

Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall offered a somewhat livelier reaction to the situation.

“It’s clear to me that the inmates are running the asylum out there in Sun Valley,” said Hall in an interview.

Hall said that he is not surprised some of the Sun Valley council members wish to boycott the joint meetings.

“If I were them, I would pull out of the joint meetings, too,” Hall said. “I’d be so embarrassed by my behavior.”

Hall said Ketchum representatives will be the “adults” and will continue to work hard to increase tourism and improve business in the valley.

Brennan Rego:

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