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May 30, 2012
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Eight of 10 IVGID candidates sound off at political forum

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Eight of the 10 candidates for IVGID trustee traded barbs and made declarations during a well-attended forum last Thursday night at Sierra Nevada College. Candidates Tim Callicrate and Bill Devine did not attend due to personal reasons. In all, about 200 residents and potential voters attended. Below is a synopsis of some of the stances and comments:

FRANK WRIGHT

“The No. 1 problem with IVGID is money — our money and how that money is sent and collected,” Wright said. He said he is upset with rising recreation and utility fees, and to fix the problem, he'll work to implement across-the-board reductions in employees.

Resident-paid recreation fees this fiscal year raised about $6.8 million, something Wright said is unacceptable considering venues budget to lose money. “It's a problem when we have we spend more than we take in ... and we rely on our community members to solve the problem.”

Regarding IVGID's large capital budget for the next five-plus years, Wright said it “could have been addressed in a much lighter note had we not wasted the last 10 years trying to run businesses and investing in losses.”

“By increasing our rec fee, we're socking it to the people that live here. We've got to stop the bleeding.”

JIM SMITH

According to interviews he had with staff, Smith said he feels there is a lot of untapped talent in IVGID. He said there are opportunities to reduce expenses and empower employees to focus on customer service.

Smith also touted his recent success as president of Red, White and Tahoe Blue, which in 2007 started with just seven events and expenses around $87,000. “Today we've managed earnings enough to own our own barges, we have more than 40 nonprofits participating and over 450 volunteers.

“Collaboration is who I am ... that's what this community is about, and many of you are a part of that. IVGID is the same. We can't be a great community by just cutting expenses.”

Regarding potentially outsourcing management of some district venues, Smith said managers “should be pricing things in the sweet spot, possibly outsourcing some facilities.”

Regarding the general state of IVGID, Smith said he sees plenty of talent among employees, but added that when you walk into an IVGID board meeting, “you can cut the negativism with a knife.” “It's no fun,” he said. “I want to make it fun.”

GEORGE DEL CARLO

“We need to increase service throughout every venue in Incline Village ... you increase the service, and more people show up ... and (IVGID starts) making more money.” Del Carlo also said IVGID's managers need to be held accountable. “They either meet objectives or don't meet objectives,” he said.

Del Carlo said IVGID needs to put a cap on its budget. “Then, with the cap, keep our fees where they are. Then, go to venues, come forward based on a cap of the budget and create business pans for each venue,” he said. “We need to cap ... not just an open checkbook...”

“I think there is potential for third parties to come in and run each one of those venues,” Del Carlo said, referring to Diamond Peak and the golf courses.

“We need individuals on the board that will have a new look at some of the old problems, look at both sides of an issues and help change Incline Village,” he said.

BEA EPSTEIN

“Our No. 1 issue is rising costs ... and our efforts to maintain the quality this community has become accustomed to,” Epstein said. The district, by cutting 13 full-time positions since 2009 and not implementing cost-of-living raises in 2009 or 2010, Epstein said, is taking the right steps.

“Staff is evaluated annually — there are accountability measures in place for all of our employees as well as our managers,” she said. “We do have outreach to the community through DVATs (District Venue Advisory Teams) which are open to the public.”

Epstein also took the opportunity to warn potential voters to be smart. “Just because someone makes a comment, does not mean it is correct,” she said. “It's about the betterment of the entire community, not just the vocal minority.”

Epstein also shared thoughts on outsourcing. “My personal feeling is it will cost more to the consumer if we privatize because the agency doing the operation is looking to make a profit.”

JIM HAMMEREL

Hammerel said a big issue facing IVGID is Incline's population has decreased by 10 percent over the past decade. “The biggest thing ... is doing what we need to do to increase the population of our village,” he said. “We're collapsing from the inside out, people are leaving. We cannot generate enough revenue for these venues to pay for themselves.”

“We need to ensure our rec venues are breaking even, need to have creative thinking to come up with out of the box ideas to ensure that happens,” he said.

Hammerel said he is favor of the IVGID general manager earning a smaller salary, “based more on performance bonuses, not a thumbs up and a thumbs down.”

He also said he would work to “ensure our general manager lives in Incline, to be here full time, experience and use our venues ... see what it's like to be a consumer on a daily basis.”

ROBERT OLMER

Olmer said he sees a “tremendous amount of redundancies” within IVGID staff, and that the board should evaluate the current level of employees.

Furthermore, he said one way to control costs is to re-think the Diamond Peak budget. “According to Bill Horn, Diamond Peak this past season lost $450,000 — I would submit that we cut that budget in half,” Olmer said. “Cut the budget immediately in half.”

He said one of his top goals is to “stop the increase of the rec fee and to reduce it.” “We need to be reducing expenses, not reducing service,” Olmer said. “We start out with a zero-based budget process, then have each venue manager present a budget and go through each and every line item and ask why that money is being spent.”

“It concerns there is no cap on the rec fee,” he said. “(The rec fee) is prohibitive for a lot of people in town with fixed incomes, (who) need to make ends meet.”

FRED PRITCHARD

“The biggest thing is community involvement and communication. I would recommend that we create a task force for every venue to deal with the issues that many of the candidates have raised to get the community involved.”

The biggest challenge not only for IVGID, but also Incline Village, Pritchard said, is “identifying the problem and how much we are willing to sacrifice of our current lifestyle in Incline Village.”

“I'm really a firm believer in strategic planning,” he said. “The budget should be driven by a strategic plan, 3 or 5 years.”

He also shared comments on the role of the IVGID general manager. “The general manager will fulfill and execute policies set by the trustees and parameters set by the trustees who ... will have oversight of the general manager and hire a competent general manager,” he said.

AARON KATZ

Katz said he has a plan to reduce the recreation fee by 50 percent in three years and to fully eliminate it in 5 years, details of which can be found on his website.

Katz also said people should be careful when researching, because many published are just “spin from IVGID.” According to his calculations, the gross amount of revenue IVGID receives is $11.5 million and expenses from recreation facilities equals $18.5 million. “The rec fee pays for the losses with everything IVGID does system wide,” Katz said.

“Our No. 2 problem is we don't know who we are,” Katz said. “Are we government, or are we a business. By the end of the year, $2 million will be the loss at Diamond Peak, not $400,000. Outsource it, or get rid of it.”

The IVGID board also should work to find a replacement for current General Manager Bill Horn, Katz said, adding that, “he knows nothing about being a manager of government.”


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 31, 2012 12:09PM Published May 30, 2012 07:38PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.