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Under the agenda heading of “Unfinished Business” Councilman Jim Baker continued his report on the City Finance Committee’s discussion of a funding request that was made by the Lemhi Education Project.

He explained his original proposal to the council was for individual members to make private donations to the project which would then be matched by Lemhi County.

Baker then officially retracted his recommendation that the salary for the vacant council seat be used towards the Education Project. He said he has concluded that it is in the best interests of city residents for the council not to proceed with a financial obligation towards the project.

The education project being discussed is focused on establishing an opportunity for residents to obtain higher education credits through North Idaho College Outreach Program courses, by way of the Salmon Valley Business and Innovation Center’s technological capabilities. The end result would basically equate to having a junior college based in Salmon.

Baker said there is a taxing entity in the community, Salmon School District 291, that is better suited to the Lemhi Education Project since the project is primarily beneficial to that particular group of people. Baker said, “And so, I’d like to defer city action to that entity.”

Mayor Leo Marshall has contributed $200 to the cause and he has issued a challenge to the public and his fellow city officials to match that amount.

During a public comment opportunity Robert Dunlap, a regular attendee at City Council meetings, tried to lure Marshall into matching all the donations his challenge inspires but Marshall did not take the bait.

Two other public comments were directed towards the proposed education project. After Jim Bockelman offered high praise to park crews for the new row of lilac bushes now greeting golfers at City Park, he addressed the topic of the Lemhi Education Project as a parent of two soon to graduate college students. Facing the financial costs related to those graduations he said he would have welcomed a possibility for his kids to have an alternative to higher education basic courses right here in Salmon. He said that if there had been an opportunity for a one to 20 percent reduction in costs due to a local higher education source, anywhere from ten to $20,000 of what he has had to spend would have been spent locally. Bockelman said, “The County is behind it [the education project] and I feel the city should be behind it also.”

Wayne Talmadge announced that the Lemhi Education Project (LEP) has hired Kelley Christianson as the project’s coordinator and that the job officially began that day, June 1st. He said he feels she will be a great asset to the project and to the community. Talmadge said LEP members appreciate the City Finance Committee’s attention to the original funding request which he said may have been too high. He said project leaders understand the requested funding is simply not in the city’s budget for this fiscal year. He asked the council to consider placing of a $5,000 line item dedicated to the Lemhi Education Project in the 2012 fiscal year budget.

Work sessions related to developing next year’s city budget will begin this month. The next meeting of the City Finance Committee is scheduled for June 8th at 10AM in the Salmon Valley Center meeting room.
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