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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 October 9 - 15, 2002


Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority born

County and Ketchum sign off on agreement

Express Staff Writer

In unanimous, almost anticlimactic votes Monday, the Blaine County Commission and Ketchum City Council adopted a joint powers agreement that gives each entity equal stakes in the Blaine County Housing Authority, now called the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority.

The adoption of the joint powers agreement grants both the county and Ketchum appointing power over two of the five housing authority seats. A fifth seat will be filled by housing authority members, with Ketchum and county ratification. Previously, Blaine County appointed all five members of the board.

Under the agreement, all existing housing authority members "shall become temporary commissioners that shall serve for the remainder of their respective terms or until each is reappointed or replaced."

Since it was created in 1997, only Blaine County and Ketchum have funded the Wood River Valley’s affordable housing program. The Blaine County Housing Authority, however, is the political body with legal authority to act as a landlord or to undertake building an affordable housing project on its own.

The Ketchum Housing Commission, which has served as a recommending body to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission and Ketchum City Council, was Ketchum’s initial answer to the question of how to stay involved.

But through time, the city maintained most of its involvement in the housing game by providing an office for the Blaine County housing director and perceiving the director as a city staff member.

Housing Director Gates Kellett, who resigned in August, said the system was broken. The joint powers agreement was a solution she strongly advocated.

"I think the housing authority is on the cusp of being where it needs to be to be successful," she said in an interview last summer. Housing opportunities "cannot be missed because we’re up here debating, once again, if we need a housing authority, or if we need to be a Ketchum or a county housing authority."

Kellett said the problem first arose when she started working on a controversial affordable housing project at Ketchum’s town center site, on Main Street.

"I work first for housing, for the housing authority," she said. "But I’m called a city of Ketchum employee and a housing authority employee."

The spot was sticky, because the people and city of Ketchum did not necessarily advocate the project.

"I was forced into this middle position I found really awkward," Kellett said.

Adoption of the joint powers agreement at the Ketchum level was generally smooth. Councilman Maurice Charlat stressed that he wants only Ketchum citizens to serve on the authority’s Ketchum seats and asked for language saying as much.

Ketchum City Attorney Margaret Simms, however, said such regulations would be better placed in the Ketchum Code.

Mayor Ed Simon said he would soon offer two Ketchum nominations.

"It is my intent to appoint two Ketchum residents as quickly as possible," he said.

Among the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority’s most imminent tasks will be to hire a new housing director.

"There’s your incentive to make some appointments quickly," Simms said.

None of the four current housing authority members is a Ketchum resident. That means that only up to two of them can be re-appointed. The county is accepting applications for its two positions until Oct. 26.



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