City works on budget tonight |

City works on budget tonight

Susan Wood

The South Lake Tahoe City Council is set to adopt its 2001-02 budget tonight, but it faces an anticipated $2 million shortfall and no easy ways to make up the gap.

“We’re going to face the same thing next year unless we make significant changes,” City Manager Dave Childs said Monday.

Childs is proposing raising the transient occupancy tax for non-redevelopment properties by 2 percent, placing all lodging properties in the city at the 12 percent level. The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association wants to split the increase in half for all lodging properties across the board.

Hotel and motel managers are convinced the raise in TOT would represent a hardship to their tourism-based businesses.

“Here we are coming out of a national disaster, and we’re driving away business,” said Jim Foff, who runs the Fantasy Inn. “But I understand (the city’s) position. They’re in a tough spot.”

Foff fears the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Environmental Improvement Program will eventually raise the room tax even more.

The hike that the city proposes has the potential of raising $1.35 million, but it requires voter approval. Money designated for specific purposes would require a two-thirds vote, while a simple majority could approve the increase if the money went to the city’s general fund.

Another suggestion to boost revenue that requires voter approval involves an increase in the $20 parcel fee passed in 1989 for snow equipment. The increase would be earmarked for snow removal and fire protection equipment.

Childs estimated a $10 increase would raise $110,000 to replace the equipment, some on its last legs of operation. The city runs two snowblowers that are at least 25 years old. It estimates that it will cost $320,000 each to replace them.

The budget of approximately $21 million goes into effect Oct. 1. Despite the shortfall, the city hasn’t recommended reducing staff as departments already underwent a reorganization in April.

In other city business, the council will decide whether to rezone an area of Gardner Mountain between 714 and 750 Emerald Bay Road to accommodate an 18,000-square-foot multifamily housing complex for the disabled.

Accessible Space, Inc., wants to build 18 units of affordable housing with federal funds between 10th and 13th Streets. Concerns raised by residents range from increased traffic and lighting to a general distaste for apartment buildings on a major highway.

“That’s why we picked this site. It’s close to public transportation,” spokesman Matt Crellin said, answering the first concern.

Crellin’s St. Paul, Minn.-based company specializes in housing for the physically challenged, having built 60 complexes in 20 years across the United States.

South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting

Tonight at 6 p.m.

City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

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