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County’s audit of Measure S funds continues

Susan Wood

El Dorado County Auditor Joe Harn is still working on an audit of Measure S, a recreation initiative passed by the voters in 2000 to fund the building and maintenance of facilities including an ice arena and bike trail links in South Lake Tahoe.

Harn said Thursday he expects the audit will be complete in a few weeks to determine how the $8.7 million collected from taxpayers has been spent or allocated.

The audit was conducted at the request of Tahoe’s District 5 Supervisor Norma Santiago, who wants a full accounting of how the money is spent after a constituent expressed concerns. An audit was planned by the board prior to the request.

For the annual meeting slated in July, Santiago will take over as the county representative to the board running the joint powers agreements, or JPA, between El Dorado, the city and Tahoe Paradise Park Improvement District. The latter manages the park near the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School in Meyers.

The small park has undergone recent criticism about citizen access that has prompted one Meyers resident to say he sent a letter to the El Dorado County grand jury requesting an investigation. It’s still unclear whether the grand jury will do so. The most recent complaint came up during the park’s improvement district meeting last month in which another citizen alleged the park caretaker was operating an auto repair business without proper certification. Nothing was filed with the California Board of Equalization.

The improvement district board agreed to look into the matter and report on it during the next meeting scheduled 5:30 p.m. June 22, Chairwoman Debbie Henderson said.

“We take these allegations seriously. As of this date, we have no proof,” she said Thursday.

Property owners within 50,000 parcels in the district pay $18 in fees – with the county collecting $600,000 a year. The debt service amounts to $1.6 million. The county auditor’s office released a preliminary fiscal report about three weeks ago that details expenditures ranging from annual tax consultant fees and a payment to South Lake Tahoe City Councilman John Upton for $17,610 as a JPA staff person. Upton took the position before joining the council in November 2002. The first installment of funds were received by the county, city and park in July 2004.

It also listed the construction of a city-run $1.2 million athletic field off Al Tahoe Boulevard and a $4.3 million ice arena off Rufus Allen Boulevard. City management expects the ice rink to dig out of a $50,000 annual debt within the next two years.


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