BID board opts for cooperation at first meeting: Board selects South Shore businesswoman as chair |

BID board opts for cooperation at first meeting: Board selects South Shore businesswoman as chair

Susan Wood

Opting for sheer cooperation and picking a self-made businesswoman to lead, Thursday marked a new day and age for a business improvement district.

The controversial, city-spawned business improvement district to fund South Lake Tahoe tourism promotion got right down to business for its first meeting. It laid out ground rules, reviewed legal protocol, touched on core pending issues and voted in South Shore businesswoman Julie Threewit as chairwoman.

Ernie’s Coffee Shop owner Paul Bruso will serve as vice chairman.

It’s now a race against the clock and a huge task to assemble a business plan the city will approve that unites the community and markets the city in the competitive arena of tourism – the industry that drives at least 80 percent of the South Shore economy. With the residential and commercial exodus from the city, the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

The plan on how to spend about $250,000, after city administrative fees, needs to be finalized by June 1 because notices of business license fees are mailed to the city at that time. The auxiliary tax will be due with business license fees by July 31.

As the working proposal drafted by a consultant now stands, retail establishments – representing at least 60 percent of the 2,607 businesses – would pay 60 cents on every $1,000 in gross receipts. The formula figured 70 percent of the businesses would shell out $30 a year, with a maximum set at $3,000.

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But it’s a new ball game for BID, as the board could lower the fees, shift categories or refuse or allow business exemptions.

Threewit, who will facilitate the diverse, 11-member board over the coming year, received a few handshakes and nods but didn’t waste any time on congratulations. She jumped up from the conference table to the marker board and used a quick grid to narrow down a day of the week members could meet – Wednesday morning.

Threewit serves as a greeting card buyer for Neighbors Bookstore. The Meyers woman has run The Appointment Biz for nine of the dozen years she’s lived in Lake Tahoe. Growing up in Santa Rosa, she has skied the winters at the lake since age 5.

“Tahoe is a place we used to visit as a family,” she said.

Threewit, who also rock climbs, has been active inside and out – volunteering in the community by driving a shuttle bus for the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center.

The political enthusiast, who along with many of the BID members had questioned the original formation of the working plan, expressed the desire to find a way to support special events. This was a common theme in the get-to-know session. Ed McCarthy and Missy Springer were absent.

“This is a balanced group, and Julie Threewit will be a good chair,” said Duane Wallace, South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Wallace was one in a handful of people who turned out to witness history being made in the council chambers. As a major stakeholder in the outcome of the BID, the chamber has experienced a drop in funds from the city amounting to $101,000 this year. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority lost $225,000 in subsidies. The tourism agency’s Executive Director Patrick Kaler also attended the meeting, in which council subcommittee members John Upton and Mike Weber helped the group get off the ground.

The gathering spent its first hour on the legal process via City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo, who reviewed the council-approved resolution – the city’s framework of formation. Eyebrows were raised at the notion it allows for BID allocations to go toward activities and improvements that would benefit tourism marketing. Many have thought the money didn’t include physical improvements to the city.