Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ketchum mulls raising percent-for-art ordinance

Arts commission seeks more money for future projects

Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum City Council is considering amending its percent-for-art ordinance to increase from 1.33 percent to 5 percent of the portion of money spent on capital improvement projects that is required to go toward local art projects.
    While the council did not approve the amended ordinance during Monday’s meeting, it unanimously passed the first reading of the revisions, and will further discuss ratification during its next meeting on March 17.
    If the amended ordinance is passed, the 5 percent for art will apply to all eligible capital improvement projects under $1 million. The council would use its discretion in determining how much to spend for art on projects costing more than that.
    Under the ordinance, the city can have the percentage of art either go directly toward artwork on the capital improvement project or toward making art elsewhere within the city.
Arts Commission Chair Claudia McCain said that because no eligible projects have been implemented since the ordinance was passed in 2011, no money has gone into the commission. City Administrator Gary Marks said the recession has forced the city to cut funding for many capital improvement projects, but he is optimistic the ordinance can help the commission move forward as the economy recovers.
Ketchum Arts Commission member Trina Peters said the commission is operating on a very tight budget, and wanted to see the percentage rise to improve the output of art projects in the city.
    “A major part of what we have to budget for is the artist’s fees,” Peters said. “We need to cover their fees, not just the construction, so a lot of time, effort and money are going into this.”
    Marks said he initially brought attention to the ordinance because he felt it was too complex in regard to distinguishing which projects it applies to.
    “Statute stipulates that we cannot include utility, water or wastewater projects to the city’s applicable projects under the percent-for-art ordinance,” Marks said. “However, utility projects below ground are exempt, while above ground are not. The ordinance should straight up say all of those projects are exempt.”
    Marks also said the presumption that all water and wastewater projects are built underground is not always correct. As a result, he proposed changes to improve understanding and implementation of the ordinance.
    “This will streamline the entire process,” he said. “It will become more predictable and transparent to the public.”

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