Agency wants feds to underwrite revenue study |

Agency wants feds to underwrite revenue study

Patrick McCartney

Facing the need to raise up to $100 million annually to build, operate and maintain proposed environmental improvements, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is studying potential revenue sources.

The agency’s governing board on Wednesday agreed to appeal for $75,000 in federal assistance to update a study that examined the similar issues in 1974.

The appeal for help funding the study will come next week when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman returns to South Lake Tahoe.

TRPA representatives will request aid during a previously scheduled meeting in which Glickman will unveil a list of projects and policies the federal government supports in response to the president’s visit to Lake Tahoe in July.

If the agency is unable to coax the funding from the administration, the TRPA board will consider other possible funding sources for the study next month.

Jim Baetge, the agency’s executive director, said the agency could pay for the study itself by tapping into its water and air quality mitigation funds. Or, it could use money generated by the allocation of 150,000 square feet of commercial allocations for special projects. Commercial allocations sell for upwards of $30 a square foot, and a project might qualify for bonus coverage by underwriting the cost of the local revenue study, Baetge said.

TRPA’s ambitious, $1 billion Environmental Improvement Program identifies numerous erosion control and draining improvement projects around the basin.

Options that have been discussed in the past include an entry fee to the Tahoe Basin, which would require amendments in California and Nevada and by Congress to the bistate compact that created TRPA. Other options are a parking fee or other “basin impact fees” to visitors.

Don Miner, a Douglas County commissioner and member of the TRPA board, estimated the TRPA’s need for local revenues as 10 percent of the environmental improvement program’s total cost, or $100 million.

Miner said only a quarter-cent sales tax or gasoline tax paid by residents across California and Nevada could provide the necessary revenue.

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