Friday, October 5, 2012

Can Ketchum and Sun Valley work together?

Elected officials discuss cities’ relationship

Express Staff Writer

Statements made during recent Ketchum and Sun Valley city council meetings indicate that some elected officials there are willing to put the two cities back on a cooperative track, though at least two Sun Valley council members remain intransigent.

“As council president, I’m going to try to talk to Sun Valley’s council president to say we need to take steps in a positive direction,” said Ketchum Council President Baird Gourlay at a Ketchum City Council meeting Monday.

At a Sun Valley City Council meeting Tuesday, Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe said communication has to start “somewhere.”

The rift between the cities began Aug. 16, when the Sun Valley council—led by Council President Bob Youngman—unexpectedly amended the fiscal 2013 budget to reduce the city’s commitment to the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance from $356,000 to $256,000.

Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall stormed into Sun Valley City Hall during the meeting to speak against the funding cut, but the council did not reverse its decision, and two council members expressed offense at Hall’s behavior and at a later disparaging remark about them.

During a special Sun Valley council meeting on Aug. 21, Mayor Dewayne Briscoe vetoed the fiscal 2013 amended budget, but the council voted 3-1 to override his veto. Councilwoman Michelle Griffith was the only council member to vote against the override. She was also the only one to vote against the $100,000 funding cut.

“We appreciate that Mayor Briscoe tried to do the right thing,” Hall said in an interview Monday.

At the Sun Valley council meeting Tuesday, Griffith said Sun Valley should “work together” with all of Blaine County’s municipalities for the sake of Sun Valley’s citizens.

At the Ketchum council meeting Monday, Gourlay said Griffith is “approachable.”

In an interview before the meeting, Hall said Blaine County’s cities cannot afford to “build walls” between each other.

“We need a strong county community and county economy,” he said.

Hall also gave Briscoe a rhetorical pat on the back.

“Mayor Briscoe is an honorable man,” Hall said. “I’ve come to respect him and understand that he’s got a difficult situation out there [in Sun Valley]. I just don’t know how he can control it.”

Though some council members from both cities and both mayors have expressed a desire to get the cities paddling in the same direction, others do not seem ready to bury the hatchet.

At the Sun Valley meeting, Youngman called Ketchum’s attitude “bad” and said he’ll never set foot in the Ketchum City Council chambers again.

The cities are scheduled to have a joint meeting at Ketchum City Hall on Oct. 15 to receive a quarterly progress report from the Marketing Alliance. But Youngman and Sun Valley Councilman Franz Suhadolnik, have said they will not attend.

Briscoe, Griffith, and Councilman Nils Ribi said at the Sun Valley meeting on Tuesday that they will attend. However, Ribi said that in the future, he would prefer to have the progress reports delivered to each council separately.

Under state law, two council members is not enough to form a quorum. If a quorum cannot be formed, any Sun Valley elected officials who do attend the meeting will do so as private citizens.

Briscoe said at the Sun Valley meeting Tuesday that the Oct. 15 meeting will serve as a test to determine the future relationship of the two cities.

“If they receive us with respect, it could be a good seed,” he said. “Otherwise, I won’t stay long.”

Brennan Rego:

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