local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 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. 

Friday — April 30, 2004


Rec department takeover challenged

Councilwoman insists that voters ‘have a say’ on YMCA

Express Staff Writer

Numerous questions were raised this week about a proposal by the Wood River Community YMCA to take over the city of Ketchum’s recreation programs and absorb the Parks and Recreation Department’s entire $450,000 annual budget.

Ketchum City Councilwoman Terry Tracy, the city Parks and Recreation Department director from 1978 to 2003, has issued a list of 16 questions to the Ketchum-based YMCA group, asserting that the proposed deal could harbor substantial hidden costs.

In an interview Wednesday, April 28, Tracy reiterated earlier statements that she believes any decision about city funding for a planned YMCA in Ketchum should be voted on by Ketchum citizens.

"I feel that no matter which way we decide to go, a proposal this large has to go to the voters," she said. "We’ve got to give Ketchum residents a say in this."

At issue is an April 21 proposal by directors of Wood River Community YMCA to acquire city funding for a planned $16 million state-of-the-art recreational complex on the city-owned Park and Ride Lot, north of downtown.

YMCA board member Tom Praggastis asked City Council members to endorse a plan that calls for allocating the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department’s entire $450,000 annual budget to the YMCA, in exchange for a guarantee that the organization would maintain all of the city’s existing recreational programs.

The proposal was made pursuant to a 2003 resolution by a previous City Council to match the YMCA’s first $3 million in charitable pledges with a $3 million revenue bond—subject to voter approval.

Praggastis asked that the city allocate the $450,000 Parks and Recreation budget to the YMCA for 10 years in lieu of seeking voter approval for a revenue bond.

The plan, Praggastis said, would give the YMCA a solid financial footing and could ultimately cost taxpayers less money, largely because the public could have access to recreation programs and the planned YMCA facility with minimal additional costs.

Praggastis also told City Council members that YMCA directors believe a vote on a revenue bond—which would require approval by two-thirds of voters—would be "doomed" to failure.

The City Council has agreed to consider the YMCA proposal at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 11.

This week, Tracy said the city should adhere to its 2003 pledge to seek voter approval for a YMCA revenue bond.

Furthermore, she said, the YMCA should not seek to circumvent a special election by proposing a "hostile takeover" of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

"They’re placing the blame on the city of Ketchum for their own inability to raise money," Tracy said. "They’re afraid to go to the voters."

The most significant question about the YMCA financing proposal, Tracy said, pertains to a city memo released this week. The memo indicates that the city would need to maintain a substantial parks budget, even if it turned over its recreation programs to the YMCA.

"Under (the YMCA) plan, the city would still have a budget line item of about $250,000 to maintain its parks," she said.

She added: "That would give the city a total annual cost of some $700,000."

Indeed, the city does stand to incur costs in addition to the $450,000 that would be allocated to the YMCA. The YMCA proposal to the city states: "The Y is not proposing to operate the city’s Parks Department, so that portion of the city’s budget … will have to be covered from other general revenues."

In an April 27 memo to council members advising them of issues to consider at the May 11 meeting, City Administrator Ron LeBlanc estimated that the city would still need to allocate at least $252,000 to cover expenses related to maintaining city parks. In addition, he said, the city would lose approximately $30,000 in fee revenues from recreational programs.

"In the process of reviewing current operations, it became apparent of the many details that remain to be worked out in order to successfully contract with the YMCA for recreation programming," LeBlanc noted.

Tracy this week also questioned whether Ketchum is the appropriate location for a new recreational complex.

"If there is a need for this type of facility, I see that it would probably be in the south valley."

Tracy said she is not challenging the YMCA plan simply because she held a long-term interest in the Parks and Recreation Department.

"I’m not doing this to protect old turf," she said.

For their part, the Ketchum City Council’s three other members have their own unique views on the matter.

Councilwoman Christina Potters has said she supports putting the issue before voters. Councilman Baird Gourlay has indicated he could support funding the YMCA without seeking voter approval. Council President Randy Hall has expressed a cautious willingness to consider the YMCA plan.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

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.