City chooses BID board | TahoeDailyTribune.com

City chooses BID board

Susan Wood

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune/The newly elected BID board members are, front row, from left, Ed McCarthy, Lori London, Julie Threewit, Melissa Springer and John Cefalu. Back row, Eric Eymann, Paul Bruso and Pradip Patel. Not pictured are Victor Babbitt, Peter Laughlin, Patrick Martin, Les Wright and Richard Van Buskirk.

From a doctor and coffeeshop owner to a fisherman and attorney, the South Lake Tahoe City Council selected 11 people on Tuesday to serve as the board of a business improvement district for tourism marketing.

The 11, along with two alternates, were chosen from a pool of 26 applicants, all representing South Lake Tahoe businesses.

They’re tasked with managing the budget and direction of tourism marketing for a town at least 80 percent driven by the tourism industry.

Illustrating how much is at stake, about 50 people packed the council chambers to get the outcome of the city-appointed board for the BID, one of the most controversial issues the city has confronted.

Before the ballot-style vote, this meeting was ushered in with no public interviews and no shortage of controversy. The process started with more questions and accusations from naysayers of the process. That seemed to take longer than the votes from the council.

Businessman John Cefalu, who was later selected to the BID board, objected to the council’s last-minute decision to allow those who applied in other categories to be considered for the at-large category. The move he called “inappropriate” was later canned by the council. Mayor Kathay Lovell explained the council considered the action to divvy up more board candidates from the east side of Ski Run Boulevard.

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Ken Curtzwiler took issue with applicant endorsements from the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce to council members. He asked if the council received from the chamber “any correspondence – verbal or written to include electronic mail.” Lovell and Councilman Hal Cole said no. The inquisition prompted Councilman John Upton, who served on the BID formation subcommittee with Councilman Mike Weber, to later affirm it.

After the meeting, Chamber Executive Director Duane Wallace said he sent the message to Upton and Weber. He declined to share the e-mail but indicated half the chamber’s endorsements were picked, half not.

“Should we have had the majority? Absolutely not. But we have just as much right as anyone else to make recommendations,” he said.

The exchange punctuated months of bickering over the process.

Another issue was whether the lodging community should take spots on the board if its contributions don’t come into the BID coffers until October 2006. This is when the $1.50 room surcharge expires from Measure Z, which through 2006 goes to the city’s general fund. Hotel managers have agreed to continue collecting the money for the BID.

The way the proposal now stands, 2,607 companies in the city would kick in an estimated $326,000 into the BID according to a formula based on gross revenues and type of business. The annual assessments range from $30 to $3,000. The BID is intended to counter $753,000 in reduced city subsidies to the chamber and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in the last year. Still, the money’s allocations remain undecided until a BID plan submitted by the board is approved by the council.

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