Council to tackle $3 million budget shortfall |

Council to tackle $3 million budget shortfall

It’s that time again.

The South Lake Tahoe City Council will bring up its long anticipated 2002-03 budget at a special meeting today at 3 p.m. in the council chambers.

The council plans to walk away from the meeting with a scheduled public hearing on Oct. 1 and direction for city staff.

The council will review with the staff line items outlining the preliminary budget amounting to $48.3 million. This includes special accounts such as Lake Tahoe Airport enterprise funds, redevelopment debt and capital projects that show a $3 million shortfall for the coming year beginning in October.

That shortfall whittles down to less than half in general fund money. The general fund, including primarily a department-wide balance sheet, comes in at $21.4 million in calculated revenue.

The $1.2 million gap was expected and a bit of a relief when considering a worst-case scenario, Mayor Brooke Laine said Monday.

“It’s good news it’s not worse,” she said.

This year’s budget became the topic of controversy months ago when the 2001-02 framework for spending led to a city manager proposal recommending cuts in areas such as public safety.

To help close the gap, the city will rely on the passage of Measure Z — an initiative headed for the registered voters in November that increases the motel-room tax by at least $1 per room, per night and doubles the business and professions license fees.

The tax now amounts to 10 percent that guests pay at most properties — 12 percent in the redevelopment zone.

The collective revenue to be gained by Measure Z’s passage has been estimated at $1.3 million. But the measure has also been characterized as a short-term solution.

“It should help keep us afloat for a while. It gets us to the water level,” Laine said.

In addition, she anticipates the city dipping into the California Public Employee Retirement funds.

Come next year, the city also expects to start collecting revenue from the Marriott redevelopment project at Park Avenue.

“The (Transient Occupancy Tax) is a known quantity. What I worry about are the unidentified expenses,” Laine said.

The budget business — to be discussed at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. — caps a day in which the city plays host to El Dorado County supervisors who are in town for their annual district meeting.

The city welcomes county officials at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena at 9:30 a.m. The county meeting kicks off at 10 a.m., with a public hearing scheduled a half-hour later on transit rate increases. The supervisors will receive a tour of recreational facilities and take center stage during a “Supervisors on Ice” show slated for 11:15 a.m. A trolley tour through the city redevelopment area at noon will be followed by lunch and a reintroduction of the Lake Tahoe Airport at 12:30 p.m.

The county meeting ends two hours later.

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