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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of July 3 - 9, 2002


Mayor proposes transportation expenditures

Ketchum unveils preliminary budget

Express Staff Writer

Despite the shaky economy last winter and spring, Ketchumís 2002-2003 preliminary fiscal budget projects $9.8 million, a $500,000 revenue increase over the current year.

In presenting the first budget of his administration, Mayor Ed Simon outlined plans Monday to fund a multitude of transportation programs, affordable housing projects and local visitor information and marketing efforts.

He proposed a 1.5 percent cost-of-living-increase for city employees, and added incentive-based employee bonuses.

The only personnel increase he proposed is for the addition of an operator at the cityís wastewater department.

The city council scheduled a series of noon meetings it will use to consider the preliminary budget, which must be finalized by September. The meetings will be on July 8, 18, 23, 25 and August 7. The budget must be preliminarily approved on Aug. 19, after which it can only be reduced.

Budget revenues are slated to come primarily from city sales taxes, at $2.3 million, and property taxes, at $2.2 million. Both are projected revenue increases.

Street, police and fire operations are the largest general line items, according to a budget summary.

The mayorís transportation proposals include $8,000 for a downtown parking management plan.

"This will build onto a traffic and circulation study which is currently under way and will address the issue of a paid parking program in downtown Ketchum," Simon wrote in a letter to the city council.

The budget also slates $30,000 to continue funding Ketchumís share of the Peak Bus for a year. It also anticipates $38,500 as Ketchumís share to continue Wood River Rideshare for the next fiscal year.

"These alternative transportation initiatives are essential to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles coming into Ketchum, which is the direction we must go if we are to successfully reduce the amount of traffic congestion in Ketchum."

Simonís preliminary budget also lays out $600,000 for acquiring land to be used for parking, "with the possibility of construction of an affordable housing project to be built over the parking."

Additionally, $136,000 is budgeted to provide one half of the cost for four affordable housing units to be built on the second floor of the KART building expansion, which is scheduled to start this July. The city of Sun Valley is expected to fund the other half.

Simon proposed $200,000 to help finance a Ketchum and Blaine County School District cooperative project that could achieve rental housing near Ernest Hemingway Elementary School. Simon said the proposed project may get caught in a federal tangle of laws, but the $200,000 is earmarked for housing, and could be carried into the 2003-2004 fiscal budget if not used this year.

As in previous years, Ketchumís mill rate levy for property taxes will continue to decrease.

"Since new construction and revaluation have increased market values in Ketchum by an average of 9 percent over the past three years, which exceeds the growth in property tax revenue, Ketchumís mill rate levy will continue to decrease," Simon wrote.

Based on an estimate of market values for all properties in Ketchum of $2.09 billion, Simon estimated that Ketchumís mill rate levy will decrease from the current rate of $1.30 per thousand to $1.10 per thousand.

"I do know that the Ketchum mill levy is one of the lowest in the state," Simon said.

In an interview, Simon added that he has a few ideas about future city budgets. By next spring he said he would like the city to work on three- to five-year budget projections in addition to annual budgets.

He also alluded again to a potential 1 percent increase of the local option tax on liquor, short-term beds and general sales. That potential increase, which would need voter approval, could be on ballots this fall, he said.

"I think the public would support an increase in the option tax, since that is supported mainly by tourism dollars," he said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.