City likes recreation plan
City leaders Tuesday showed support of a plan to form a Recreation Joint Powers Authority on the South Shore but appeared skeptical of a county proposal to raise sales tax for road services.
At the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting, members voted unanimously to have city staffers continue to pursue a JPA with El Dorado County, Lake Tahoe Unified School District and the Lake Tahoe Community College District. The JPA would likely be funded by a voter-approved special property tax in an amount between $25 and $50 per year.
Councilman Kevin Cole raised questions about equity and the JPA, considering the fact that city residents have been paying for recreation in the basin for a long time when county residents have not.
Don Radford, parks and recreation director, said that is a question other agencies have brought up as well, but so far there are no answers. The details of the JPA will have to be worked out as the process moves forward, he said.
“I’m not opposed to the JPA,” Cole responded. “Obviously we have to do something, and this seems like the most viable approach. I guess the devil is in the detail, and we will just have to work that out.”
Each council member expressed the feeling that a separate entity and funding source is needed to insure the survival of recreation in South Lake Tahoe.
However, the council was not so inclined to support the ideas made in a presentation by Michael Stoltz, El Dorado County Department of Transportation director.
The Board of Supervisors has endorsed the department’s proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase within the county to pay for maintenance on county roads, which Stoltz characterized as “deteriorating beneath us.”
Although no vote was taken, council members were clearly wary of the proposed half-cent sales tax initiative, primarily because they could not see the direct benefit such a tax would bring to the city.
“I think this is a slippery pole for the county to climb,” said Councilwoman Judy Brown. “There has been a lot of publicity related to money management … and I think selling this to the voters and the taxpayers is going to be a strong sell.”
Cole noted that discussions are going on within the Tahoe Basin to increase sales tax basinwide as a means of paying for transportation improvements in hope of raising local revenue to leverage federal funding.
“It’s hard enough to sell one sales tax initiative, much less two of them,” he said.
City Manager Kerry Miller said the county should look into creating a Transportation District on the Western Slope, so that any increased taxes would not affect South Lake Tahoe.
“If the city is a party to this, the measure can prevail on the West Slope, because they have at least two-thirds of the vote,” he said. “While the county may be concerned with paving one road in Cameron Park, the city is concerned with how we can get people out of their cars and use mass transit. Our objectives and needs are really quite different.”
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