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City Council may speed up airport study process

Jenifer Ragland

In the continuing saga of the Lake Tahoe Airport feasibility study, South Lake Tahoe leaders Tuesday will consider an alternative for getting it done.

The City Council on May 20 approved spending $9,600 to hire Aires Consultants, Ltd. to complete the study, contingent on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority funding the other half.

But the LTVA subsequently postponed a vote on the issue until the fourth week in June. That delay, said City Manager Kerry Miller, will defeat the purpose of using the results of the study in city budget deliberations.

“First, any resultant savings … will not be captured in the final budget. Second, the airport employees are left to speculate about the future of the airport and their individual status,” Miller wrote in the staff report to council members. “And third, the preparation of a budget without the results of the study to guide us are futile at best.”

As a solution, Miller is recommending that the council divide the study into two phases. The first phase would examine current operation of the airport – including ways in which expenses could be reduced and revenues increased – as well as investigation into the airport’s Federal Aviation Administration certification status.

The second phase would deal with alternative management strategies, including operating contracts with neighboring major airports and forming a bistate airport district or joint powers authority.

“Since this phase is less critical to the immediate preparation of next year’s budget … its completion is less of a concern and may be initiated concurrent with possible LTVA board action in June,” Miller wrote.

Aires, a consulting firm out of Morgan Hill, Calif., is requesting a modified price for the phased study – $10,000 per phase, with a completion time of 60 days for each. The council would have to approve the additional $400 expenditure of the city’s general fund contingency.

The other $10,000, if not approved by the LTVA, could be brought back to council members to decide whether to fund the rest of the study.

Also on the agenda:

— 1996-97 mid-year budget review – Accounting Manager Bruce Budman is recommending increased expenditures to be funded by increased revenues and contingency funds. Some activities being adjusted for include funding two senior airport technicians for the remainder of the fiscal year to maintain FAA certification and funding overtime hours in the police and fire departments to maintain current levels of service.

The general fund contingency would be reduced from $97,158 to $58,841, which is adequate for the last four months of a fiscal year, according to the staff report.

— Parks and Recreation Department fees and charges report -New fee schedule includes the consolidation of rental group classifications, so that all groups pay a fee for use of recreational facilities. In addition, groups will be charged extra depending on the time of rental and number of people. Staff hopes to increase revenues within the department in an effort to become self-supporting.

— South Tahoe Ice Center lease assignment and creation of security interest between the city and V & C Construction – the agreement, if approved, would give the construction company the ability to take over STIC operations in the event of a default, require the city to provide V & C 60 days’ notice before terminating the lease and notify any prospective purchaser of V & C’s interest in the STIC’s improvements.


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