Infrastructure improvements highlight budget: ‘What we pay for now will save millions later’ |

Infrastructure improvements highlight budget: ‘What we pay for now will save millions later’

Susan Wood

Motorists seeking smooth surfaces may breathe some sighs of relief if the South Lake Tahoe City Council passes its $81.9 million budget Tuesday. Last year, that figure was about $65 million.

The street overlay program, which would include pothole repair, will get a bump to $600,544 to resurface the roads, a step up from the previous two years’ decline from $2 million to $200,000 to $50,000.

The poor shape of the city’s roads has come up on numerous occasions, including the campaigns for an El Dorado County Supervisor seat representing Tahoe’s District 5.

“Road maintenance is an unresolved issue. We have to establish a program to do more maintenance than we currently do,” City Manager Dave Jinkens said Sunday.

He pointed out the “alligator cracks” that cover several city streets.

“If we don’t fix these in a timely manner, we’ll be paying millions (of dollars). We can’t afford that,” he said. “I think we have to find other means to help supplement this.”

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That’s where the 5-year projections will come in that the City Council will review Tuesday.

“I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out,” Jinkens said.

Among the budget highlights, the $26.9 million general fund is dominated by the city’s police department. The unit takes up a quarter of that part of the budget.

About 40 percent of the entire city budget is made up of salaries among all departments.

Erosion control topped an extensive capital improvement plan with projects going on in the Industrial Tract, Upper Truckee, East Pioneer Trail, Rocky Point, Al Tahoe, Bijou, Keller Canyon and Sierra Tract. The long list contributed to a rise in the total budget.

The Redevelopment Agency’s debt service has climbed from $7.1 million in 2004 to $7.8 million in 2005.

The agency’s revenue source is almost evenly split between property tax increment and money collected in transient occupancy tax. Motels, hotels and vacation rentals charge their guests and collect for the city 10 percent plus a $1.50 per room, per night auxiliary tax. Those in the redevelopment zone charge 12 percent.

In other business, the City Council will revisit its bylaws and rules regarding the redevelopment agency’s structure involving property acquisitions.

“We want to abide by state law,” Jinkens said.

Also on the agenda, the city may decide to continue or dissolve the controversial Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District. The district was formed in February to fund marketing efforts, but the district board last week voted to disband with ideas of its own.