A petition against Genoa taking over maintenance of the Vista Trail translated into one vote on the town board when all was said and done.
Board member Trent Tholen said he wasn’t satisfied that the town budgeted enough money to replace the trail in the long term.
“This isn’t just five or 10 or 20 years,” he said before voting against the maintenance agreement. “This agreement is forever. How much will it cost to replace the trail in 100 years? I’m not quite convinced that the town should take on this responsibility.”
Town Board member Nancy Aten said her questions had been answered.
Clerk-Treasurer Ted Thran told the board that the town couldn’t raise taxes to maintain the trail if it wanted to because it was maxed out.
“I don’t see a taxable event coming at you because you’re at the max tax rate,” Thran said.
The town’s portion of the tax rate is 0.5133, but because other taxing entities add up to the $3.66 per $100 assessed valuation maximum, there isn’t room for Genoa to raise additional taxes.
Assistant District Attorney Zach Wadlé said that it’s legal for the town to maintain the trail outside of its boundaries. He pointed out that the town is already maintaining another parcel outside its boundaries — the site of the wagon along Highway 395 that directs tourists to town.
Town insurance agent Jim Norton said the path has a very low risk and would be picked up at no charge this first year. The town pays $5,500 for its insurance policy, which also covers all the town buildings and property.
“If there is an incident, the aggrieved party will sue everybody,” he said when asked what would happen if someone was hurt near Walley’s Hot Springs Resort’s portion of the trail.
Town Manager Sheryl Gonzales said estimates are that maintaining the trail will require perhaps two or three slurry seals over the next 20 years and that $1,500 a year should be sufficient to handle that maintenance.
Community Service Director Scott Morgan said that trails he maintains at Lake Tahoe require varying amounts of maintenance. The Round Hill bicycle trail hasn’t been resealed in the more than 20 years he’s been with the county. Kahle Park requires more maintenance because it’s right next to irrigated grass.
He said having the town take over maintenance would be more efficient than trying to have the county do it.
At most, Morgan said he had one person to visit the trail once a week to inspect it. The town maintenance staff would be there every day, and would be able to do a much better job of caring for the trail.
Roger Falcke said he was one of the people who signed the petition and he rescinded that signature after hearing testimony at the meeting. Roger’s brother, Randy Falcke, said he felt that if the town didn’t take over the trail it would be remembered the next time the county wanted to spend money in Genoa.
“For a lot of years, it seemed the town was treated like the county’s stepchild, but this shows me that this is a different era,” Randy Falcke said. “I don’t think this will be a major effort to maintain, and I recommend you accept.”
Douglas County commissioners approved transferring the trail to the town at their regular meeting on Thursday.