November 1, 2012 | Back to: News

My Turn: Setting some information straight on Measure J

TRUCKEE, Calif. - I take this opportunity to correct factual misstatements made by various opponents of Measure J in the most recent edition of the Sierra Sun.

Toni Robinson in her "My Turn" article opposing Measure J stated that the Aquatic Center would sustain a loss of $1,002,308 during its first five years of operation. What the column did not include, however, was that TDRPD receives voter-approved pool parcel revenue of approximately $152,000 per year, which must be offset against any operational losses. Thus, over the first five years, rather than sustaining the loss which she states, the Aquatic Center will actually generate a projected profit of $46,800.

The Performing Arts Center is projected to sustain an average annual operating loss during its first five years of $91,535. TDRPD, however, will work with the arts community to endow through private donations an operating fund to defray these costs. Also, TDRPD pays annual debt service on the River View Sports Park of $142,864. In 2021, that debt will be retired and the $142,864 will then be available to defray any operating losses of the Performing Arts Center. Finally, TDRPD has $2,100,000 in unallocated reserves (cash) with which it can also absorb any operating losses.

Ms. Robinson stated that, in 2011, TDRPD's financial statement shows that it lost $462,622 and suggests that TDRPD is not making enough money to pay its bills. What the column does not mention is that $130,166 of that amount was normal (but, non-recurring) developmental planning expenses related to designing and planning for the Aquatics and Performing Arts Center. These special costs were paid from the approximately $7,000,000 reserve created by the savings that TDRPD experienced during construction of the new Community Center.

The remaining $332,456 in operating loss was the result of a sharp and unforseen drop of over 5% in property tax revenue which TDRPD received in 2011. TDRPD was able to absorb that loss in revenue because it had planned for that contingency by creating the previously mentioned reserve that now totals $2,100,000. As property values increase, and as new properties are constructed (e.g., at Martis Camp, Lahontan, and Gray's Crossing), those reserves will be gradually replenished.

Ms. Robinson further argues that the construction of these facilities is misguided because they will be within the "airport influence area." What is not mentioned, however, is the Foothill Airport Land Use Commission, which regulates the compatibility of airports and local land use plans, specifically approved the planning of these new facilities at the new Community Center site. The only restriction is that TDRPD cannot have functions which will have more than 1,000 persons on the site at any given time. This will not be a problem because there is insufficient parking on site to accommodate 1,000 visitors. Currently, there are approximately 150 parking spaces and these new facilities will increase parking by another 100 spaces. While Ms. Robinson argues that locating these facilities at the new Community Center site is dangerous, the Foothill Airport Land Use Commission concluded otherwise.

Mike Akay asserted in his letter to the editor that the old Community Center, the Veteran's Hall, and the new Community Center sites are adequate for Arts performances. As fine as they are for other purposes, none of these facilities is suitable for a professional entertainment event. Acoustics, stage access, seating, and parking are only a few of the things that make them totally dysfunctional for public performances. He also states that the existing community pool can be improved. It is not cost effective to improve a 40-year-old pool that has already exceeded its useful life expectancy.

Don Scott opined that these new facilities "will not make money." However, civic buildings are virtually never constructed to make money; rather, they are built to serve a public need, even if doing so will create an operational loss. The civic agency that builds the facility seeks to minimize any losses by using other sources of funding, which is what TDRPD will do.

All of these facts have been available to any member of the public who was willing to research them by contacting TDRPD. The supporters of Measure J believe you should know the real facts, rather than speculation.

Dan Kates is a Truckee resident and Co-Chair of Truckee First "Yes" on Measure J.

Dan Kates
Special to the Sun


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 1, 2012 05:42PM Published Nov 1, 2012 05:40PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.