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For the week of Sept. 1, 1999 through Sept. 7, 1999

Basolo says he will leave Hailey council

Will complete current term

Express Staff Writer

After serving on the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission for two years and the Hailey City Council for two years—terms marked by his dissenting voice, which often left him the odd man out—Councilman Scott Basolo announced last week he will not seek reelection this November.

In a letter addressed to Mayor Brad Siemer and the citizens of Hailey, Basolo emphasized that he is not resigning from his current position and that he plans to complete his term of office, which ends Jan. 1.

"I am making this decision for personal reasons," Basolo wrote in a one-page letter. "In my life the priorities which I seek to serve are in order, God, my family and my job which supports my family. I have found the current position of councilman is conflicting with these goals."

Basolo, 38, a structural engineering consultant, has distinguished himself in office—and possibly earned the enmity of Siemer and others—by breaking ranks with the Hailey City Council on such issues as land management and the city budget.

On Aug. 9, Basolo was the only council member to opposed Siemer’s budget for fiscal year 1999-2000. The budget eliminated the $55,000-per-year city administrator position and created a new $44,000-per-year facilities and maintenance director position to take its place.

Basolo said he agreed with everything in the budget, except for the creation of the new position, which he said could "jeopardize the function of the city administration core."

Basolo also said it would be difficult to find someone with the expertise needed to fill the multifaceted position.

On July 28, less than two weeks before voting on the Hailey budget, Basolo appeared before the Bellevue City Council to encourage Bellevue’s opposition to Siemer’s and the Hailey City Council’s plan to annex and rezone 152 acres of land between the two cities.

Basolo managed to rally enough opposition to cause the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission to reject the proposed annexation and rezoning.

For almost a year, Basolo has been deeply involved in an evolving transfer of a development rights (TDR) bill in the state legislature. The measure would allow local governments to establish programs through which the owners of agricultural land could sell development rights of their property to builders in other areas, rather than subdivide and build themselves.

The hoped-for result would be the preservation of farmland and open space, while compensating the landowners who participate in the program.

Basolo has emphasized the importance of preserving the community character as a whole. He says the human characteristics of the south county create the character of the entire Wood River Valley—the warm and friendly attitude that make Hailey, Bellevue and Ketchum such special places to live.

Given the mayor’s response to Basolo’s resignation, it’s not hard to imagine that Basolo could be frustrated with his frequent battles as a public servant.

Basolo said in an interview that Siemer’s response to Basolo’s decision not to seek reelection was, "Too hot in the kitchen for you?"

Basolo said the mayor was only joking, but when asked if it’s true, Basolo said, "There will be a lot of people who think that, I suppose. But it’s not because there has been rejection, or that I’ve been the odd man out. Proof of that will be my continuing involvement."

Siemer could not be reached for comment.

Basolo, who has a two-year-old and a three-year-old boy, said that he spends a great deal of time being a good public steward—so much so that he frequently must put his duties as councilman ahead of his duties toward his family. He finds it to be too great a conflict and one that he must remedy.

"I would spend the same amount of time even without the current issues," Basolo said. "It’s a very demanding job."

After he leaves office, Basolo intends to continue his efforts to implement transfer of development rights legislation at the city and county level.

In particular, his efforts on the citizen’s advisory board for the TDR issue will focus on a section of the TDR bill, which is heavily weighted against cities being able to mandate any kind of TDR system. Basolo hopes to make it easier for cities to mandate.

Also, he said, he will continue to be involved in county-wide impact-fee legislation.

Basolo admits that after he leaves the city council, his involvement will not have the same effect.

It begs the question of whether he’ll ever run for office again.

"Certainly not for a few years," he said, "but I’ll be back."


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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.