The question can apply to just about everything, from our personal relationships to technical innovation, from running a business to being great parents.
For the past few months I've essentially been asking myself a version of this question while preparing the city's fiscal year 2018 budget. For me, the question has been: "What can, or should be done, to provide sustainable growth into the future while maintaining our authentic mountain town characteristics that are key to Ketchum's success?"
It's my hope that this proposed budget not only helps answer that question, but sets in motion the policies, projects and priorities that will make Ketchum stronger going forward and secure its place as a wonderful community in which to live, work, recreate, visit and invest.
With that in mind, let's touch on the priorities in the $24.3 million budget proposed for the next fiscal year. Our shared values as a community are reflected in these key priorities:
- Creating multi-modal transportation options
- Enhancing Ketchum's quality of life
- Expanding the stock of workforce housing
- Providing city staff the tools needed to do their jobs efficiently and effectively
- Supporting businesses
- Protecting and preserving our natural resources
I believe a stronger Ketchum includes continued commitment to multi-modal transportation solutions, making Ketchum more walkable, bikeable and easily accessible for residents and visitors. In support of that goal, I'm proposing to keep our commitment to public transit and future multi-modal mobility by honoring the budget increase request by Mountain Rides.
Mountain Rides has requested $634,000 and the proposed budget calls for providing that full amount. We will also continue to invest in sidewalk and lighting improvements, solutions for public parking, and implementation of the bicycle and pedestrian master plan for Blaine County.
So much of what our city is about today is providing our youth, families and visitors with quality recreational facilities and opportunities. This budget strives to advance that commitment by supporting upgrades at the Guy Coles Skatepark, improvements to public ball fields, and investment in beautification projects throughout the city.
The arts are a key contributor to building a strong sense of community and positive economic growth. This budget proposes continued support of the Ketchum Arts Commissions' projects, art within capital projects supported by the Percent for Arts, and the addition of an inaugural plen air event to promote the doing of art.
The complete sustainability of our community hinges on the ability for people to live in Ketchum. This budget appropriates the community housing in-lieu fees attained in the last two years for investment in workforce housing units. Also, a request for proposal is underway for a housing and parking project on city property located at Sixth and Leadville. I am also advocating for key revisions to land use ordinances to stimulate the development of small, market-rate unit housing.
A hallmark of my administration has been a strong commitment to the steadfast conservation of our resources. This proposed budget aims to continue the progress made in the last three years to make our city "greener" and more energy efficient.
The budget supports additional irrigation improvements aimed at reducing overall water consumption. Work will continue on the Ketchum Springs Line conversion, projected to reduce loss, lessen pumping requirements and achieve water efficiencies by installing meters and repurposing old water lines.
The budget also supports ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption through installation of energy-saving street lighting and energy efficiencies at the Street's Department.
I believe the strength of our city, and ultimately its future sustainability, rests, in part, on the talent, energy and commitment of our city staff and employees.
How often do we see corporate CEOs, nonprofit leaders, small business owners or even coaches attribute success to the drive, ideas and performance of their employees? The media is saturated with these kinds of stories.
Ketchum should be no different, and our strong future is contingent upon maximizing staff contributions at all levels.
For example, I'm very proud of and grateful for the crews that worked tirelessly to plow our streets and clear the snow last winter, then logged long hours to respond to the threats posed this spring during the flood event.
They keep our city functioning on so many levels and strive to keep pace with the expectations of our city's residents and visitors alike.
It's important to give employees the tools necessary to do that essential work.
As a result, the budget proposes raises for city employees based on a salary survey performed by the city (which included 9 cities-both Idaho jurisdictions and other ski resorts). For employees making less than $40,000, the budget calls for a 10 percent increase. Employees making between $40,000 and $50,000 would get a 5 percent increase, while those making more than $50,000 would be in line for a 1 percent increase in pay.
This is an important step toward retaining and attracting quality staff and employees.
We continue to support business innovation and the attraction and retention of businesses by funding the Ketchum Innovation Center, Sun Valley Economic Development and Visit Sun Valley.
I have heard loud and clear from the community that the City should find a less costly, more efficient solution for the Essential Services Facilities. This is the direction you want the city to go, a course of action residents believe is appropriate. I agree.
The proposed budget opens the door to move forward with a rehabilitation of Forest Service Park for administration and a separate facility for fire and police, which would of course be subject to voter approval.
In conclusion, this budget is about taking the steps now, making smart and tactical investments today, to position our city for a stronger future. The proposed budget also represents our commitment to spending wisely and strategically. In fact, we aim to achieve all of these goals with a general fund budget that comes in 0.2 percent less than fiscal year 2017.
I encourage the public's input and participation in this budgeting process because only together can we truly build a sustainable future for our city, our economy and the quality of life we all enjoy.
It's an honor to serve you.