Additional funding may help Measure S
With lower than expected interest rates, additional funding may become available for Measure S recreation projects without a tax increase. But the question is will the Measure S board instead choose to ask taxpayers to pay less than $18 a year?
“I have been debating this back and forth,” said Hal Cole, mayor and city representative to the three member Measure S board, which will ultimately make the decision.
But even with excess funds all three members of the Measure S board would need to agree on how they would be spent.
“As with politics it will be give and take,” Cole said. “But I think the spirit of the board with all three of us is we want to complete all projects and first class.”
Measure S will provide for a 37,000-square-foot ice rink, ball fields, maintenance money for bicycle trails and improvements to Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District.
Additional funds could give board members insurance that all projects would be properly funded as promised to the voters. Cole said that if the bonds provide more money than the projects require, the excess money could be used to reduce the principal.
The city has recommended to bond $5.95 million, Cole said. This could provide between $500,000 to $900,000 in surplus funds, which could give the board a cushion for cost overruns. Estimates for the ice rink and ball fields have already exceeded original estimates.
The exact amount of money available, however, will not be known until the sale of the bonds, which is expected to take place in February.
The first of three bid stages for the ice rink are expected to go out in the next four to six weeks, said City Manager David Childs.
Measure S specifies the bond cannot exceed $6.5 million and property owners cannot be charged more than $18 a year. The board, however could charge homeowners less than $18 a year.
Councilwoman Brooke Laine said that a surplus fund is a good idea, but that charging the public less than $18 could mean a lot to the community.
“I think it would go a long way if we could come in beneath (the $18),” Laine said.
Councilman Bill Crawford said he was concerned about how the board would handle additional funds.
“I would hope the board down the road would not get into a battle over excess money, and not try to think of ways to spend extra money,” he said. “I hope the board does not plan to build anything that was not approved by the voters.”
By changing the type of roof and decreasing the amount of siding, the latest cost estimate for the ice rink is $160,000 more than the original $3.8 million. However, Cole said that it is possible that a contractor could build the project for the original $3.8 million.
Estimates for the four ball fields have come in at between $200,000 and $400,000 over the original $1.3 million, said John Upton, a consultant for the project. But these figures include lights for the ball fields and an additional 2,200-foot-long bicycle trail that would connect Al Tahoe Boulevard with the existing Lake Tahoe Community College trail. The estimate also includes money for a traffic study. The study could require widening of the proposed South Tahoe Utility District road, which would be used to get to the fields.
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