Airport plan to be discussed |

Airport plan to be discussed

Robert Stern

The South Lake Tahoe City Council tonight will decide whether to push forward with a strategic plan for the Lake Tahoe Airport.

The decision comes in the wake of last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, where four domestic airliners were hijacked. The nation remained at a standstill for days, and the airline industry has been hit hard.

Despite this, some still feel optimistic about the Strategic Action Plan, which they stress is a three- to five-year plan.

“The Strategic Action Plan is for long-range planning, and even though the airlines are suffering right now, I believe they will come back,” said Councilwoman Judy Brown.

Airport/Transit Manager Mike Dikun said the consulting plan should remain intact at this point.

“We don’t anticipate changing what we’re looking for,” Dikun said.

The Airport Commission unanimously voted last Tuesday to recommend Baltimore-based Edwards and Kelcey as consultants. Carl Ribaudo, an airport commissioner, said they should take into account the result of the recent terrorism attacks and their impact on the airline industry.

“We would hope they would bring their industry expertise to the table and guide us through some of these issues,” Ribaudo said.

Councilwoman Brooke Laine said the recent acts of terrorism could hurt South Lake Tahoe’s ability to attract commercial air service.

“I believe the impact of what we have gone through will cause commercial air service nationwide to spiral downwards for some time, and it will make it more difficult for an airport like ours to come even close to attracting (commercial) service,” Laine said.

Laine said the city needs funding partners to keep the airport alive. If approved, the city budget for next year provides $600,000 for the airport, a figure the city is trying to reduce.

“I am a proponent of the airport, but from a fiscal standpoint I am wary that the city can hold the airport up on its own,” Laine said.

Councilman Bill Crawford said he is not willing to vote for the city budget, slated for approval Oct. 2, if it still proposes to contribute $600,000 to the airport next year.

“My position is the same regardless of what has happened in the last week,” Crawford said. “As an elected city council member I have a fiduciary trust to keep this city solvent and that is the issue. The issue is not commercial air service.”

The city is looking to solidify commitments to pay the $25,000 consulting fees. El Dorado County has committed $10,000, said City Manager David Childs. The South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority could each contribute $5,000.

— The South Lake Tahoe City Council will hold a public workshop at 2 p.m. to discuss next year’s budget.

The budget , which is about $21 million, came in $3.5 million over the estimate prior to City Manager David Childs’ recommendations. Last year the figure came in at $4 million over.

Childs recommended an increase in a parcel tax to set aside money for fire trucks and snow blowers. He also suggested a 2 percent increase in hotel tax for properties outside the redevelopment area, to bring them up to the level of properties within the redevelopment area.

Both measures would require a public vote.

— The City Council is expected to respond to an El Dorado County Grand Jury report that claimed the city’s use of High Sierra Patrol, a private security company, to issue handicap parking citations is not consistent with state law. While City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo agreed with the findings, according to a staff report, she said the city is within its power and will continue to use High Sierra Patrol.

— The City Council will also review recommendations for stop signs on Lodi and Stockton avenues as a result of citizen complaints.

What Budget workshop and City Council meeting

When: 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. today

Where: City Council chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

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