Council OKs crosswalk, decides to pool chamber, LTVA money
A few green lights were essentially given Tuesday at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting – one to a dangerous crosswalk traffic signal at Heavenly Village and another to a disgruntled group of former chamber members wanting to form their own business organization.
The City Council approved by a 3-2 vote its 2006-07 budget amounting to $87.6 million, with new allocations and a shifting of loyalties on its marketing subsidies.
Councilman Ted Long and Mike Weber voted no because of an added motion by Mayor Hal Cole that eliminated the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce from the budget.
The South Shore marketing arms were once allocated $225,000 and $101,000, respectively. Now the money will be pooled under the subsidy name, “visitor marketing fund.”
“What was on the agenda was the budget. It was premature to start deciding where to spend it. It was clear to me a couple of council members didn’t like the joint chamber,” Long said following the meeting, calling the move “unfair.”
Long called the motion a statement against November’s South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Douglas chamber merger criticized for being Nevada favored. The issue came to a head with the California chamber executive director Duane Wallace being replaced.
But Councilwoman Kathay Lovell insisted the decision to remove the organization names was “not about Duane” but on citizen feedback.
“When we did our (community) survey and town hall meetings, the public was not happy with the way funds were going to the chamber and LTVA. This money is not automatically going to the LTVA or chamber. They’ll have to compete for it,” she said.
The political flack over the joint chamber forming prompted a recent vote that failed to rescind the merger, but featured longtime chamber supporter and Councilman John Upton declaring he would withdraw his funding support based on the process and outcome of the merger. And Bob Attinger, a former chamber member who has led the recent charge against the merger, vowed to press on.
Attinger appealed to the City Council Tuesday during the budget discussion to withdraw support from the joint chamber, which has negotiated an agreement with the LTVA to run its visitor center operations.
He perceived the council’s latest action as a go ahead for progressing with his committee’s plans.
“I think that was an indication we were qualified to go forward,” Attinger said Tuesday afternoon from his office. The informal group has applied for a new chamber with the Secretary of State’s office.
In other action, the City Council approved a shared funding agreement with Caltrans to pay for a $398,203 pedestrian activated traffic signal at the Heavenly Village crosswalk where a pedestrian was severely injured a year ago.
Kathy Martineau, a Heavenly Mountain Resort employee, still hasn’t crossed the street there where she was hit by a vehicle – but she said Tuesday she’s healing and pleased the signal will be installed.
“I feel pretty darn good. I just hope they get the light in before winter,” she said.
Rich Williams of Caltrans said the signal is due to go in by November. But the city will need a grading exemption from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The city also approved a $195,810 bid to make security upgrades to the Lake Tahoe Airport and $13,500 to study the viability of the aviation facility. It also received a report from the Redevelopment department on the relocation plan for those affected by the convention center project going in beginning May 2007.