City Council may approve new fire fuels reduction program |

City Council may approve new fire fuels reduction program

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue will bring its plan of establishing a fuels reduction program to the City Council Tuesday evening.

After seeing how landscape-level fuels reduction performed before the Caldor Fire played a critical role in protecting communities, the department plans to establish the program to reduce fuels and create defensible space.

SLTFR will use the “Fire Prevention Fuels Crew to establish a curbside chipping program within the community and organize fuels reduction projects with other city departments based on their needs,” said the council agenda.

The new program would include hiring four crew members — one seasonal fuels crew lead and three seasonal fuels crew member positions — and purchasing a chipper truck for a total initial financial obligation of $392,987.

The payroll for six months is between $117,237 and $123,094, including seasonal employee benefits with an additional $9,760 for personal protective equipment, and the cost for the 2022 4-wheel drive Chevy 5500 chipper truck is $265.988.65.

If council approves, Measure S funds, a 1% sales tax voters passed in 2020, would be used to initiate the program.

“The program could then be available for contract work throughout the City to mitigate fuels on state, federal, and other local agency land; potentially reimbursing the initial investment and ongoing costs,” said the agenda.

Council may also pass a motion authorizing an agreement with the California Tahoe Conservancy on defensible space and fuels management on lands in the city limits.

The agenda’s executive summary said there has been a concerted effort to address fuels management in the basin since the Angora Fire in 2007 but funding, environmental compliance and jurisdictional issues have slowed that process.

“With that in mind, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue and the California Tahoe Conservancy have been working diligently over the last several months to build an agreement which allows for effective fuels management on CTC lands and will create a joint effort to address all parcels in the city, regardless of ownership, in a consistent manner,” the agenda said.

Council will receive the 2021-22 fiscal year annual report from the South Lake Tahoe Tourism Improvement District.

The district levies a nightly assessment of $4 (hotels and motels) and $5.50 (other lodging options) on lodging businesses in South Lake Tahoe based on the renewal of the district in December 2019 for a 10-year term. These funds are used for community marketing and tourism promotion. 

The proposed 2022-2023 budget is $3,083,370 and the funds are administered by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

City staff is encouraging the council to pass a motion for increased fees at Lake Tahoe Airport to “appropriately charge for use of its facilities,” said the agenda. 

At its last meeting council directed staff to bring back a landing fee analysis to possibly mirror the fee structure at Truckee Tahoe Airport.

Revenue from increased fees are intended to help the airport be as financially self-sustaining as possible and to reduce the subsidy provided by the city.

The proposed changes would increase landing fees to a $50 flat rate for helicopters over 3,000 pounds, and to a range of $8 to $12 per 1,000 pounds for fixed wing aircraft over 5,000 pounds. The proposed changes would also remove the high season and off-peak season rate differential. If adopted, the Airport could possibly see a positive revenue increase of around $180,000.

On the consent agenda, items that won’t be discussed unless a council member requests, include raise minimum wage for city employees to $15.50 per hour, submitting grants applications to the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization for 10 pedestrian, bike trail and electric vehicle charging projects, declaring certain vehicles and equipment as surplus and sell them off, amending building codes and approving the purchase of a Caterpillar Street Roller for street maintenance and repair.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, at City Hall, located at 1901 Lisa Maloff Way. It can be seen on Channel 21, the city’s website and via Zoom.

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