Expenditure of Measure S money is under review
Funds for Measure S, a recreation initiative passed six years ago, paid for more than an ice arena and ballfield in South Lake Tahoe. The bond proceeds amounting to $8.7 million also funded a new roof and gas heater for the caretaker’s house at Tahoe Paradise Park in Meyers, records show.
These items are but a few submitted to El Dorado County Auditor Joe Harn by way of receipts and invoices from the three agencies in the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) – the city, the park district and El Dorado County.
Harn is auditing the JPA, which he’s surmised has $632,000 in available funds remaining.
The county conducted the audit after a request was made from Tahoe’s District 5 Supervisor Norma Santiago. The auditor’s office says it needs more time to sort through records to complete the audit.
“The JPA/Mello Roos (special) District has advanced monies to its member agencies based on copies of contracts, copies of invoices and in some cases estimated expenditures,” Harn wrote in a letter dated June 26 to Santiago.
He continued by taking further issue with the three entities not reporting their actual costs.
Harn said he plans to spend an unspecified amount of time matching the expenses from receipts with an accounting record of “what the agencies did for maintenance.”
“The only unusual expenditures our examination has revealed to date related to the construction and acquisition fund by the Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District,” the letter read. The Improvement District runs the 42-acre Paradise Park.
While much of the money from the city and county was earmarked for the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena on Rufus Allen Boulevard and a multi-purpose field on Al Tahoe Boulevard, the Meyers-area district spent almost $30,000 on a snowblower and $4,300 to replace the roof on park caretaker Steve Dunn’s house. The house is owned by the district.
But those expenses, among other items, are just a part of the park’s operation, John Upton stressed. Upton, a city councilman, was compensated in the amount of $17,610 as a paid staff consultant for the JPA.
“It’s all a part of the package. As far as I’m concerned, they’re fully justified as expenditures,” he said. “We have found the most efficient and most effective way to accomplish running the facilities is to have an on-site manager.”
Regarding the tractor, Upton proposed: “What’s the alternative?”
The park district uses the tractor to plow the parking lot and road that the district owns. The county doesn’t plow it, he said.
“We plow it to provide access. We don’t have much choice,” park improvement district board member Michael Clark said.
The park has undergone recent complaints from citizens about an alleged lack of access to its restrooms and other facilities. More improvements need to be made, but there’s not enough funding to go around.
Through the scrutiny, Santiago said she’s confident the park’s special district will be able to justify what has been spent. The supervisor has met with park improvement district officials to discuss the matter.
“There’s a lot of interest in the park. They need to look at things needing to be improved. I told them to prioritize and ascertain the funding,” Santiago said. She will attend her first JPA meeting in July as a county representative.
A sampling of Measure S Joint Powers Authority expenditures:
— Skid steer loader and snowblower: $29,925 (Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District)
— Gas heater: $2,610 (Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District)
— Signs, gas service, railroad ties, caretaker house roof, gazebo: $16,483
— Ice rink plumbing, supplies and consulting fees: $3.8 million