Day of decision for STAR |

Day of decision for STAR

A vote by the South Lake Tahoe City Council today could make or break South Tahoe Alliance for Recreation’s initiative to build and maintain recreational facilities at South Shore.

STAR, an organization whose mission is to implement El Dorado County’s Recreation Master Plan, is proposing to bring a $5.3 million bond measure to voters in the Mello-Roos district in a September special election. The bond would pay for the construction of two proposed recreation projects – a $3.8 million ice rink on Rufus Allen Boulevard and three playing fields for $1.3 million near Lake Tahoe Community College. It would also raise $225,000 to be used for maintenance of the projects and upkeep on 25 miles of bike trails to be built by outside parties such as the California Tahoe Conservancy.

In order for the bond measure to reach the ballot, the city of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County would have to join in a Joint Powers Authority agreement. That decision will come Tuesday when both the City Council and the county supervisors vote on the authority agreement.

Whether or not the city should join in a Joint Powers Authority has caused a considerable amount of debate and mudslinging between city officials and STAR members. One attack got personal when City Councilman Bill Crawford, who opposes joining the Joint Powers Authority, and John Upton, a member of the STAR committee, had an altercation at a South Tahoe Recreation Commission meeting last month.

Crawford, who later apologized publicly for his actions, said he supports recreation but opposes increasing debt and taxes.

“What we’re doing here is creating another layer of government that the people have no control over,” Crawford said. “There’s a great deal of authority that is passed along to the board of the Joint Powers Authority. Like I’ve been saying all along, they have the authority to hire employees and to create debt.”

Crawford said he’s also skeptical about the tax plan to pay for the bond indebtedness.

The proposal calls for an $18 property tax for each residential plot in the Mello-Roos district, which includes the city of South Lake Tahoe, Meyers and other El Dorado County residents in the Lake Tahoe Basin. About one-third of the obligation would be paid for by a business tax determined by a formula that takes into account the business type as well as a number of other factors, Upton said.

Crawford said, upon reading the Joint Powers Authority proposal, he didn’t find any mention of the business tax.

“They don’t talk about multi-family dwellings; they don’t talk about commercial establishments – the residents are going to be the sole sponsors,” he said. “The board can amend this sucker at any time. That means they can raise the tax rate, in my opinion.”

Upton said, despite the recent opposition, he believes there is considerable support for the measure.

“There’s a lot at stake in this for the 3,000 kids in the community who are trying to play sports on crowded, over-used fields,” Upton said. “The bottom line is: are you willing to pay $18 to have these benefits? This is a good buy for the community, and that’s the only reason I spend all the time I have on this.”

Attorney Dennis Crabb, who is working as a recreation plan facilitator for El Dorado County, will make a presentation on the bond measure to the City Council Tuesday, just before they vote on joining the Joint Powers Authority. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 1900 Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

Other items on the agenda:

– Approval of the final subdivision map for the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project.

– Status on ice rink’s preliminary design.

– Review of airport rates and charges for keys and land rent.

– If a Joint Powers Authority is passed, then the council will vote on its meeting dates and board member representation.

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