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Council approves raises

Lauren Halsted, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The South Lake Tahoe City Council met twice on Wednesday to discuss important money and redevelopment matters.

At the 6 p.m. meeting, Councilman Bill Crawford referred to the topic of salary raises as a “difficult subject.” The city has been battling a $2-million shortfall this year.

“We’re in a so-called budget crunch,” Crawford said. “We’re concerned about escalating costs.”

However, these concerns did not stop the council from unanimously approving a 3-percent raise and changes in health and retirement benefits for the executive management team, including the city clerk, city attorney, city manager, assistant city manager, community development director, safety services director, public works director and redevelopment manager.

With the agreement, the members of the team will receive a 3-percent raise retroactive to October 2001, and 3-percent raises effective October 2002 and October 2003. The director of safety services will receive a 10- percent total raise over the same amount of time.

No one could answer questions regarding exact dollar amounts of the raise.

Councilman Tom Davis referred to the pay increase as a “cost of living adjustment” to account for economic factors such as inflation. The raise does not serve as a performance review.

Historically, the cost of the package is consistent with council policy. “What we have here before us today has been done for years,” Mayor Brooke Laine said.

However, Crawford questioned the city’s salary formula itself. His concern is that people who make less money receive a smaller raise than people who earn greater salaries. “(We need) some way to create greater equities for all employees across the board,” Crawford said.

Also on the table, the city awarded the concession rights to Regan Beach and El Dorado Beach for 2002, 2003, and 2004, with an option to renew the lease for three years, to Al Tahoe Inc. Nancy Jones, with the city of South Lake Tahoe purchasing agency, believes this agreement will make the concession stands more appealing to families and tourists.

Earlier in the day, the council heard an annual audit report on its 2000-01 fiscal year.

The panel concluded that the city may have been living within its means, but it may also be living on the edge. Necessary infrastructure expenses and diminishing state funds dictate the city plans a prudent path, Mayor Brooke Laine said after the 1:30 p.m. session.

Total revenues for 2000-01 surpassed by 8 percent the budgeted $16 million in collections. But the excess was countered that August primarily by the city writing off about $1.8 million in accumulated debt accrued at the Lake Tahoe Airport.

The council sought to use the audit report to gain insight on developing its 2002-03 budget, which may come with a ballot measure geared toward generating revenue.

A draft of this budget is due to the panel June 4, budget consultant Dave Childs said Wednesday.

Tribune staff writer Susan Wood contributed to this report.


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