Quality of life, money issues dominate city retreat | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Quality of life, money issues dominate city retreat

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

In their first retreat since taking office, City Council members forged into their civic responsibility Tuesday with ideas as diverse as their personalities.

Between laughs and note taking, the council threw out thoughts ranging from increasing the sales tax and seeking more grant funding to upgrading Lake Tahoe Airport and enhancing the 72-mile lake drive like Carmel’s famed 17-mile route.

“I like the idea of having (motorists) stop at signs that say ‘that’s Mount Tallac,'” Councilman John Upton said.

In addition, the notions of having a Tahoe lottery and creating a shop-local promotional campaign were mentioned.

The council members were joined by department heads for a second day of brainstorming Tuesday morning to decide on how best to meet the needs of its citizens. Their task revolved around thinking outside the box, then whittling down the list.

The ideas served to address the group’s No. 1 priority of how to assure funding to support city operations, infrastructure and future programs as a basis for a mission statement it drafted in a little more than an hour.

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“We’ve begun the plan, now we have to set the vision,” Councilwoman Kathay Lovell said.

Lovell discovered she has the same type of learning style as Redevelopment Manager Gene Palazzo, who was on hand for the team-building workshop before he officially comes on board March 31.

As the new blood for the city, Lovell and Palazzo were labeled as visionary risk takers who are “willing to tread where others fear to go.”

Facilitator Marty Boyer teamed with Stanislaus County worker Cathy Bankson. Boyer and Bankson helped the group outline its other priorities, which include achieving a broader economic base, providing state-of-the-art services, enhancing citizens’ quality of life and encouraging public participation in government.

The first day was spent defining the direction of the city. On Tuesday, the group worked to establish how to get there.

With an expansive view of South Lake Tahoe from the Tallac Vista Conference Center atop Heavenly Valley, staff and council members agreed they couldn’t have been closer to the community.

“It’s critical to have the council working together. I’m more encouraged than I’ve been in four years,” Councilman Tom Davis said, adding the City Council’s last retreat was three years ago.

Davis, who’s become a fixture of public office in town, had balked earlier at pledging up to $8,000 to pay for the effort in a time of budget crisis for the city. The final estimate wasn’t available as of Tuesday, which was primarily spent on how the city can save money — whether the direction focused on cuts or revenue boosts.

-Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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