Council OKs funds for two special events | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Council OKs funds for two special events

Sara Thompson / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

The South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday agreed to give the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority $15,000 of the $85,000 the authority requested to help fund special events.

“I’m asking for the city to support good, solid events,” LTVA Executive Director Carol Chaplin told the council. “The business community deserves your support.”

The council approved funding for two of the four events that were presented.

The $10,000 allocated to the Lake in the Sky Air Show will pay for the performers, and the $5,000 for the Masters Track Meet will be used for marketing.

The Lake Tahoe Marathon did not receive the $10,000 that had been requested and the Labor Day fireworks didn’t get $60,000.

Councilman Bill Crawford said the marathon has a following because it has been around for 14 years, so it could survive without funding. The Labor Day fireworks began without any city funding, so the obligation isn’t there to fund them.

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The marathon will take place, but won’t get the draw it normally does because it lacks the marketing component, Chaplin said. The Labor Day fireworks can’t continue without additional funding, she added.

Mayor Jerry Birdwell moved to fund the marathon and the fireworks, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Birdwell said he was disappointed the council did not choose to support the Lake Tahoe Marathon, and said the amount was minimal to help out with marketing.

The LTVA has been making due with its limited funding. Because of the tight budget, staff has been utilizing e-mail databases and sending mass e-mails to people, said Mike Frye, LTVA sales manager and special-events coordinator. And Chaplin writes an LTVA blog that is gathering a following, too, Frye noted.

About 11 people spoke during the public comment period, and all supported funding the events.

“I can do the meet, but I need help marketing,” said Anthony Davis, who is organizing the Masters Track Meet.

Davis said the track meet was originally planned to last three days, but because of budget reductions from various agencies, the meet will last only one day.

“We are in a serious economic downturn,” said Tom Davis, Horizon Casino Resort spokesman. “These four events take advantage of Tahoe.”

The Labor Day fireworks is the third biggest draw for the lodging community, said Jerry Bindel, South Lake Tahoe Tourism Improvement District board chairman. It falls short of the July 4 fireworks and Celebrity Golf.

Bindel said the TID Board unanimously approved an increase in fees that lodging properties will charge to their guests, and would like to bring the issue before the council for final approval within 30 to 60 days. The fee increase would provide more money to market the area to tourists.

The city asked the LTVA to have more special events, said Brian Williams, who is on the Lake in the Sky Air Show committee.

The Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority and the LTVA put on the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament, which attracts thousands of visitors to the South Shore, Williams said. The event doesn’t require any money from the city, but the city does benefit from the event.

“Now it’s the city’s turn,” Williams said.

Williams urged the council to fund the events.

“It’s time to sit down and work things out before this gets out of hand,” Williams said.

Many business owners feel the council has an anti-business philosophy, said Patrick Atherton, chairman of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce Board. The chamber recognizes the city’s fiscal responsibilities, but tourism dollars help fund the city’s operations, he added.