A series of debt refinancing measures the South Lake Tahoe City Council agreed to pursue this week are expected to save city coffers several million dollars in interest payments in coming years.
That will free up money for other priorities including street repairs and improved recreation facilities.
“Let’s restructure as much debt as we can to capture the lower interest rates, and to find any money we can to invest in recreation and streets, in capital improvements and infrastructure to grow our economy,” City Manager Nancy Kerry said.
Refinancing $11.6 million in debt issued for public safety employees’ pension contributions at a 7.5 percent interest rate is expected to free up an estimated $3.3 million over 12 years.
Refinancing another $42 million in redevelopment bonds issued in 1999, 2003 and 2004 is estimated to save another $2.2 million in interest payments.
Both refinancing moves must be brought back for formal approval by the City Council after clearing other procedural steps. They tie in with other efforts to free up money for community improvements, including ongoing labor negotiations that aim to reduce the city’s costs of providing retiree health care benefits.
The city will examine refinancing the rest of its $90 million in redevelopment debt as bonds mature and that becomes possible.
“We’re trying to grow revenues internally and not ask taxpayers for any additional money. They have indicated they are not ready for that,” Kerry said.
Savings from the refinancing moves would likely be front-loaded into the next few years to start making headway on a conceptual 5-year community investment plan that includes Regan Beach upgrades, a new bike park, an upgraded public works yard, a recreation center overhaul, the Tahoe Valley Green Belt and other projects.
Money could be used to help plan and design the projects and prepare them for construction.
In other business this week, the City Council also approved a series of changes in rates at the South Tahoe Public Parking Garage that will take effect in September.
Passes will be offered for $125 per month from November to March, for $400 for the ski season and for $600 for a year-round pass.
The city approved cheaper one-hour validations for businesses, which will be reduced from $1.50 to $1 in a push to get more merchants to participate. The change in validation prices does not affect the movie theater, which will continue to be able to buy validations for 35 cents, per a previous agreement, but the length of the theater’s validations was reduced from four to three hours.