City, bus provider resolve business plan dispute |

City, bus provider resolve business plan dispute

Susan Wood

A BlueGo casino shuttle leaves Harveys Resort Casino. / Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune file

The city and BlueGo operator Andrew Morris have somewhat resolved a standoff since he took ownership of the bus service from longtime President Ken Daley in November.

For months the local government was insisting on a business and financial plan from Morris in order for the city to legally agree to the change in ownership.

His Zephyr Cove attorney, Jeff Rahbeck – who drafted the parties’ original contract – contends a total stock transfer does not require city approval.

“I think this issue is behind us and we can move forward,” Rahbeck said Wednesday.

City Manager Dave Jinkens on Wednesday described the differing interpretation between the city and Area Transit Management as “a spirited debate” at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting the day before.

ATM has operated the South Lake Tahoe bus service since 1985, when the city determined it was cost-prohibitive to manage the system in house.

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The city had sent a terse letter to ATM telling it that it “has the right to request all financial and operational records of the contractor for purposes of an audit as required by the Transportation Development Act,” the letter read.

ATM isn’t completely off the hook with the city. This summer, the city plans to undergo an audit of the corporation and fare box receipts. It’s the first time the receipts have been audited in at least recent years.

In turn, the city passes $700,000 a year in state transportation funds for the company operation. El Dorado County provides $320,000.

Morris, who was unavailable for comment Wednesday, has shared plans of how to improve the bus service.

The BlueGo program, a $4 million operation, has undergone reductions in routes and other services.

At least one person wants to do something about that. Former Google software engineer Ray Sidney of Stateline pledged $1 million to the bus service in May to start a route from Stateline to Carson Valley. Many South Lake Tahoe workers have moved to Gardnerville and Carson City as high home prices at Tahoe have pushed employees out of the market.

In other business, the council approved the allocation of $28,000 to create a redevelopment survey area involving the “Y.” Soon a blight study will be done.