The city of Hailey has long been a leader on sustainability in the Wood River Valley — the city had an employee focused on sustainability efforts a few years ago. But it was only funded temporarily, by a state grant. After the position ended, many of the efforts fell by the wayside.
Hailey’s new "resilience coordinator," Rebecca Bundy, will begin where the past initiative left off. She says between five and 10 years ago, the city was a leader in its ability to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Bundy, a local architect, has helped Hailey and Ketchum with resilience projects in the past.
Her position of five hours per week is funded by the city through September and was added to Hailey’s budget for next fiscal year, which begins October 1. The budget, which has not yet been finalized, allocates $19,500 toward Bundy's part-time position for next fiscal year.
Scott Runkel, of the recently-formed citizen group Hailey Climate Action Coalition, says having a person in the government appointed to pay attention to resilience is important because it takes a lot of work.
“You have to figure out conservation measures you're going to implement, you have to look at the new technology that's coming out there, you have to dedicate the funds to do it, you have to make a compelling case to show how much you're going to save and why the funds are worthwhile," he says.
This new position, with the help of a resilience committee that includes Runkel, will allow the city to figure out where it stands on certain climate indicators. Runkel hopes Bundy will be able to craft renewable energy goals and other long-term plans for the city to adopt.
Runkel believes the city's interest in hiring Bundy through next year is, in part, a result of the Hailey Climate Action Coalition's advocacy work. Just a few months ago, there were six citizens in the group; now there are about 80 who've signed up. Aside from ongoing events to encourage the community to talk, and learn about, climate change, Runkel says the next big mission for the group is to make climate discussions a part of the city's November elections.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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