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Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Lawsuits sap budget

Sun Valley OKs $210,000 ‘fix’

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley City Council members last week approved spending $210,000 of the city’s cash reserves, in part to pay for escalating costs tied to three development-related lawsuits that have been lingering in the courts.

With Councilman Kevin Laird absent, the panel voted 3-0 to approve an ordinance that amends the 2003-2004 budget by moving $210,000 from the city’s cash reserves to various budget departments.

City Administrator Jan Wellman made the proposal after discovering that several expenses incurred in the current fiscal year were not adequately funded through the budget.

The items that were not budgeted or were inadequately financed include:

  • City health insurance policies ($61,000 short).

  • Disbursements to the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau for extra marketing efforts ($20,000).

  • Extra costs linked to an ongoing update of the Sun Valley Comprehensive Plan ($25,000).

  • Payments to Planning and Zoning Commissioners to compensate them for working at special meetings ($10,000).

  • Shortfalls in legal expenses incurred in litigation of disputes over three major development applications ($75,000).

The city last year determined it would seek to maintain a $1.5 million cash reserve, enough money to keep the government operating if all revenues were unexpectedly halted.

The city at the beginning of the fiscal year had a cash reserve of approximately $1,653,000.

Wellman said the budget adjustment will effectively draw the reserve down to $1,443,000.

City Attorney Rand Peebles said the three major lawsuits the city is defending are all still active in the courts. Those suits against the city were filed separately by:

  • The developers of the proposed Crown Ranch Phase 5 residential project.

  • The developers of the proposed Triumph Springs subdivision in northern Lane Ranch.

  • The neighbors of the planned new elementary school at the Sagewillow campus of The Community School.

"It’s just the nature of Sun Valley real estate," Peebles said. "The stakes are high. The quality of life is high."


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