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Ketchum regroups after $23.1 million bond fails for a new city hall

Ketchum City Hall has been in a former car dealership since 1979. Photo courtesy of city of Ketchum.

Ketchum City Hall has been in a former car dealership since 1979. Photo courtesy of city of Ketchum.

Now that more than 75 percent of Ketchum voters have rejected a $23 million bond for a new city hall, the city is talking about putting together a committee to find out what kind of move forward voters would support.

Only 181 Ketchum voters favored the bond in the May 17 election.

Ketchum’s city hall and its fire and police departments have operated out of a 15,304-square-foot former car dealership since 1979. Cramped city hall offices are upstairs in a building with no elevator.

Boise-based ZGA Architects proposed a two-structure municipal complex that would have had the city hall and the police department in a 39,000-square-foot building and the fire department in an 18,000-square-foot building. The $23.1 million estimate was based on a study of the space that would be used; the project had not gone to design yet.

The Ketchum City Council will decide June 6 whether to establish a citizens committee to discuss next steps. Among other things, the committee would provide input on what sort of new city hall voters would be willing to support. City staff will also present an estimate of how much it would cost to provide public education on the project,  said Lisa Enourato, Ketchum’s communications coordinator.

“The public let us know that we did not provide them with enough information to make a well-informed decision,” she said.

Enourato said city leaders suspected the bond measure would fail in the 2,800-resident town, but were surprised by size of the defeat; 556 out of 737 voters opposed the bond. Voter turnout was 35.5 percent and 2,135 Ketchum residents are registered to vote, according to the Blaine County Election Office.

Enourato said it is unknown whether city leaders will try to lower the estimated cost.

“It’s so hard to say without a design,” Enourato said. “We only have a space study to come up with a number (for a bond).”

Updated May 31 to provide more information about the purpose of the June 6 meeting.

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.