Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On"                                                                                                             Photo by Jim Britt 
     City of Ketchum
P.O. Box 2315
480 East Avenue N.
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
"The Original Mountain Town" 

Our hearts and
prayers are with Bowe.
April 3, 2014
A Message from Mayor Nina Jonas: Why Public Sector Moves Slowly

When I first entered the political arena, I was surprised by what seemed to be slow decision-making. Having come from the private sector, I was use to making a decision and implementing it with as much speed as possible. Yet the government process is about inclusivity rather than speed. Once decisions on our direction as a City have been made, we then must identify the resources needed for a measurable success and implement the steps in a predictable fashion.


With this knowledge, we have begun the budgeting process for the coming fiscal year earlier than usual. The goal is to create a timeline with sufficient opportunity to hear from the public before we adopt a budget, and we truly want to hear from you.


The City Council and department heads began the process Monday with a workshop on the budget for fiscal year 2014/2015. We asked for broader presentations than before so that all of us would have the chance to appreciate each others' current and future concerns.


Department heads, Planning and Zoning Commission members, City Council members and I all talked about our objectives and our organizational structure. (See City organization chart below.) The Council members and I then voted on where we as a City will focus the budget.


The consensus was that these are the top objectives:

  • A balanced budget
  • An advisory ballot on creating a new community campus and/or City Hall to replace our current offices, located in a former auto dealership built more than 40 years ago
  • Environmental initiatives 
  • A more efficient structure of the non-governmental organizations that support economic development
  • An enforcement officer to work with all departments on code issues 
  • Increased collaboration and possible consolidation of fire departments in Blaine County
  • Updating city codes, particularly in the areas of zoning, building and fire
  • Showing our commitment to the next generation through increased communication via social media

These align with my personal objectives of becoming a greener, more sustainable City and creating a more diversified economy. For example, the City Council will discuss how a broadband strategy can support economic growth on Monday, April 7. (See story below.)


We will ask for public comments on objectives and budget recommendations at the City Council meetings on April 21 and May 19. We hope the extra time will give you a chance to let us know your thoughts before we vote on next year's budget objectives on June 2. 


It is an honor to serve you and I always welcome your input in person or via email, Nina
Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas Named Woman of the Year

One goal of Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas, named the Wood River Valley's Woman of the Year, is to create "a very service-oriented" City Hall.   


"This is a people job," she told the Idaho Mountain Express, which coordinated the competition. "We do have city assets that we manage but it's really about the interactions and serving the public. I feel we are headed in the right direction, and I feel good about it.


"I'd like to get more economic initiatives in place like broadband Internet and a hotel," she added. Also, I want us to do some sustainable initiatives in water and energy. We're in a position to be an example community for others because everyone wants to help."


It was a surprise to be selected Woman of the Year by a vote of the Express readership, Jonas said. "I'm kind of shocked, but I'm humbled and it's an honor."


Jonas served one term on the Ketchum City Council before being elected mayor last fall.


She and her husband, Andreas Heaphy, are co-owners of Ketchum's Rickshaw restaurant, which they opened in 2005. "Rickshaw prepared me more for politics than my education because I'm dealing with people all the time and it's immediate problem-solving." she said. "If you don't solve a problem right away, then it explodes. I can't take things personally and just try to solve the problem."


Jonas, who grew up in Ketchum, is a graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts with degrees in art history and economic development. She also spent a year at the London School of Economics.


Prior to college, she traveled through more than half a dozen countries in Africa for a year. "The experience wasn't analytical so much as it was absorbed. I got to see how the rest of the world lives, how they are able to laugh and still have joy even though their days are centered on getting water."


After college, she returned to Ketchum. Prior to starting Rickshaw, she worked in raising seed money for several then-fledgling nonprofits, including Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, Wild Gift and Winter Wildlands Alliance.


Read the complete Idaho Mountain Express story on her selection. 

Ketchum, Sun Valley Agree on Marketing Contributions
"This is a new era of cooperation."Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe  
Ketchum and Sun Valley contributions to the Visit Sun Valley budget will be restored to approximately $800,000 annually - the original goal set in 2010 under a tentative agreement reached by Ketchum and Sun Valley officials.


The plan calls for Ketchum to contribute $450,000 and Sun Valley $350,000. This is approximately 25 percent of each city's receipts from the local option tax. Local option sales taxes are levied on such items as hotel rooms, restaurant purchases and retail sales other than groceries.


"At my inauguration in January, Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe proposed that representatives of our cities get together, and I thought it was a wonderful suggestion," Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas said. The conversation was very respectful and polite, and I appreciate his taking the initiative."


The proposed contributions are expected to go before the city councils this summer when budgets for the coming year are presented.   


The local economy also should benefit from the new 1 percent LOT for air service in Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey, Jonas added. The tax is expected to fund development and marketing of commercial airline flights serving the Wood River Valley. United Airlines began seasonal service from San Francisco this past winter, and will add Denver service in July. Read full press release.

A Brief History of the Resort Cities Local Option Tax
by Wendy Jaquet, retired State Representative, Idaho Legislature and former Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

The history of Ketchum's local option tax goes back to 1975 when Jerry Seiffert had just been elected mayor. He took office in the fall because Mayor Bill Brand had decided to return to his position as fire chief. During the campaign there was lots of talk about "funding a bus" to help visitors reach shops and restaurants. Seiffert pointed out that this wasn't an appropriate use of property taxes. Other ski resort communities were using local option sales taxes to fund bus systems, increased infrastructure needs such as fire and police service, economic development and marketing.

Sun Valley Mayor Win Gray was concerned about the bus and also the expense of Moritz Community Hospital.  In those days before St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center was built, Sun Valley subsidized Moritz even though it served much of Blaine County and virtually all of the tourists visiting the area. (continue reading) 

Click here to see a list of permitted uses by Ketchum and Sun Valley ordinances.  Read Ketchum Ordinance 712 on local option tax by clicking the Ordinance link at the bottom of the page.
From Handwritten Ledgers to Computers

Sandy Cady and Kathleen Schwartzenberger, who oversee the collection of the local-option tax receipts, have been with the City so long that they can remember when the City's first computer was bigger than both of them put together.


"The computer was on the mezzanine, and it was bigger than this filing cabinet," City Clerk Cady (see photo at right) said, pointing toward the five-foot high cabinet beside her desk. "We had one disk and one backup disk, and each one was about two feet in diameter. The technology has changed completely over the years."


Cady is truly a Sun Valley native. She was born in the Sun Valley Lodge when it housed the local hospital. She started working in the clerk's office when she graduated from Wood River High School 40 years ago.


Schwartzenberger (see photo at left), the administrative clerk, joined the City staff 17 years ago after working as a meat wrapper. "Someone asked me how meat wrapping applies to the city clerk's office," she recalled. "Well, they both involve working with the public."


Indeed, dealing with the public is a major part of her job.  Seated at a desk to the left of the City Hall door, she is the first person people see when they enter the building.


The two of them, as well as their colleagues in the city clerk's office, are used to questions that may or may not deal with City business. "When people can't find something in the phone book, they call us," Cady said. "One person wanted us to tell him what time it is according to the atomic clock. He said he wanted to be sure he was on time for a meeting." Questions are much more common about the locations of Hemingway's grave and the library.


When Cady started, tax receipts were entered in a ledger by hand. The City had minimal equipment, so Sun Valley Resort printed utility bills and she logged them by hand in the City records. Ketchum had yet to acquire its first park.


She was working for the City when the local option tax was initiated in 1985. This year, the state has started collecting the tax for the City and the first payments came in last week. The state has stronger enforcement mechanisms, Cady said, and the system also is expected to reduce the workload on City staff.


The longevity of the staff in the city clerk's office is remarkable. The other two people in the office, Katie Carnduff and Pat Bennett, have been with the City for 16 and 27 years, respectively.


"I love the camaraderie here," Schwartzenberger said. "We all like working with each other and working to help the citizens, too."

Why Broadband?

On Monday, April 7, City Council will hear a

presentation and have a discussion about  

broadband in the City of Ketchum.


Broadband is one of the best ways to boost the City's economy by attracting small businesses that can locate almost anywhere they wish, said Aaron Pearson, IS and media director of The Community Library and a member of Ketchum's broadband committee.


Examples of businesses that come to cities with high-speed broadband include film editing studios, which need to transfer large files quickly, and technology startups.


Why broadband? "The U.S. is rapidly losing the global race for high-speed connectivity, as fewer than 8 percent of households have fiber service. And almost 30 percent of the country still isn't connected to the Internet at all," according to Bloomberg View.


Bloomberg says that even the U.S. goal of 4 Mbps is "shortsighted," noting that South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and the Netherlands are all looking at a standard of 1 gigibit per second.


"Think of it this way," the Bloomberg article said. "With a dialup connection, backing up 5 gigabytes of data (now the standard free plan offered by many storage companies) would take 20 days. Over a standard (3G) wireless connection, it would take two and a half days. Over a 4G connection it would be more than seven hours, and over a cable DOCSIS 3.0 connection, an hour and a half. With a gigabit fiber-to-the-home connection, it can be done in less than a minute."


Read yesterday's article in The New York Times on the "limited choice of towns with fiber."   

Kudos for Bringing Ski Races to Ketchum
K.J. Savaria, a graduate of SVSEF programs, in the men's giant slalom at the Spring Series on Baldy last week.  Photo courtesy of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation  

Congratulations and thanks to Sun Valley Resort and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) for bringing the International Federation of Skiing's Western Region Spring Series to town. Contestants included such luminaries as Andrew Weibrecht, who earned a silver medal in the Super G at Sochi.


The Idaho Mountain Express editorial said it well: "Putting on national and international ski races is expensive and requires efforts beyond the day-in, day-out business of hosting recreational skiers. Even so, the national and international exposure, high-level ski and snowboard races . . . are worth the effort and expense in that they keep the ski resort on the map of places beloved by the best in the sport and on the list of places recreational skiers want to visit."

Another Ketchum Connection to Paralympics

We recently learned of another Ketchum connection to the Paralympics. Mark Bathum, a visually impaired skier from Seattle, and guide Cade Yamamoto won silver medals in the super-G and the super combined events in Sochi.


Bathum has trained with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and his family has had a second home in Ketchum for more than 30 years. Bathum also is one of four finalists for the Best Male Paralympian award, a program inaugurated this year by the U.S. Olympic committee. Winners will be announced Monday, April 7 during the Best of U.S. Awards Show on NBCSN.  

Ketchum Leads Nation in Percentage for the Arts

Ketchum is believed to be leading the nation in the percentage of public capital improvement budgets earmarked for the arts. The City Council voted to raise the figure to 5 percent at a recent meeting.


Seven cities in Idaho require a percentage of capital improvement budgets to be devoted to the arts, Ketchum Arts Commission member Claudia McCain said.  The figure ranges from 1.25 percent in Hailey to 1.4 percent in Boise. Other West Coast cities have percentages ranging from 0.5 percent in Denver to 1.33 percent in Portland, she noted.  She has been unable to find another city in the country with as high a percentage as Ketchum.  Read full press release.

Around Town
2014 Janss Pro-Am Classic
Don't miss "the best party on snow!" Come out and support your local ski and snowboard teams and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at this year's  "Dance Dance Evolution" Classic, April 3-5.

Wanted - Planning & Zoning Commissioner
The City of Ketchum invites you to get involved! If you have an interest in contributing to your community, send your letter of interest for the 3-year Planning and Zoning Commissioner position to  Deadline - Monday, April 7, 2014.

Weeds Out of Control Workshop

The Wood River Land Trust and the Blaine County Noxious Weed Department invite landscapers, homeowners and land managers to attend a free workshop to learn effective noxious weed control methods on Thursday, April 10 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden. Call 788-5516 for more information or click here for the agenda.

BAH Resumes

Ketchum's Gary Hoffman has reorganized the previously defunct Business After Hours gatherings. The first BAH in several years was held last week at Frenchman's Gulch Winery and attracted about 40 people. Attend the next BAH on April 30 at Cava Cava restaurant at 5 p.m. Interested in attending or helping with a future BAH? Contact Hoffman at 725-7722 or Follow them on Facebook

Save a Billion Gallons of Water 
Ten area landscape contractors are participating in a program expected to save a billion gallons of water over the next few years by installing "smart" irrigation controllers. The devices measure the water in the soil and adjust irrigation times accordingly, saving as much as 60 percent of the water normally used and nurturing a healthier yard. The Sawtooth Botanical Garden is coordinating the program. HOW MUCH IS A BILLION GALLONS OF WATER? Three times the amount of water that flows through 35 miles of the Big Wood River each year!  

We're Healthy! 
Blaine County has been selected as the fourth healthiest county in Idaho by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Rankings evaluate 29 factors that influence health, including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical inactivity and access to healthy foods. Madison County is the healthiest in Idaho, according to the study.

Marvin Gaye Photo in National Portrait Gallery
A photo by Ketchum's Jim Britt is included in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery exhibition "American Cool." Britt took the photo of Marvin Gaye during the recording session of his album "Let's Get It On." The Smithsonian has a 20x24 silver gelatin print and we've used it as the opening photo in this newsletter. Britt and his family went to Washington, D.C., for the opening reception. Read The New York Times story.

Smithsonian Magazine Recognizes Ketchum 
Smithsonian Magazine last month named Ketchum as one of "America's 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014." "Present-day Ketchum is a celebrated center for arts and culture in the Wood River Valley," the article points out. Read the full article here.

Vacancy on Blaine County School District Board of Trustees - Zone No. 4
If you are interested in serving as a volunteer in a position on the Blaine County School District Board, contact Laurie Kaufman ( or Karen Hoffman ( or call 578-5000. Deadline - Monday, April 21, 2014 at 3 p.m. 

Friedman Memorial Airport Closes for 25 Days
Planning a trip? Remember that Friedman Memorial Airport will be closed from 8 a.m. on April 28 to noon on May 22 as part of a $34 million project to improve runway safety. The taxiway on the west side of the airport will be moved 70 feet to provide more separation between the runway and taxiway and the taxiway on the east side of the runway will be demolished. Read more here.

Chip Sealing Scheduled
The most opportune time for a successful paving job and getting the best bang for the taxpayers' buck is during the months of July and August. Click here for the 2014 schedule and here for news from the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC).

KDPI Radio - "For A Cause"
Tune in to KDPI 89.3 FM to hear from Mayor Jonas. The half-hour program is held on Tuesday following Council meetings from 12-12:30 p.m. Next week's show will be on Tuesday, April 8 at noon. Listen live at 89.3 or visit
Meeting Information
City Council
Please attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 7. Join the discussion on BROADBAND and learn what it can do for your community. Submit your public comment if you cannot attend.  City Council meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of each month in Ketchum City Hall.  Click here to see the agenda and packet.

Planning and Zoning Commission
Planning and Zoning Commission meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.  The next P&Z meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 14 in Ketchum City Hall.  Click here for agendas and meeting packets.

Public Comment 
If you cannot attend the Council or P&Z meetings and have an opinion, please submit your comments via email to  Your input and engagement is encouraged.  All comments will be entered into public record and reviewed by the Mayor and Council.

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480 East Ave. N.
P.O. Box 2315
Ketchum, ID 83340
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