IVGID approves Diamond Peak rate increases, discusses ways to recruit, retain employees

IVGID offices in Incline Village.
Rob Galloway/Tahoe Daily Tribune

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The general improvement district Board of Trustees met Wednesday, March 22, and discussed a number of items related to the health of the district, ranging from employee benefits to rate changes at Diamond Peak Resort. 

The meeting was led by Vice Chair Sara Schmitz since Chairman Matthew Dent was not in attendance. At the beginning of the meeting, the board decided to defer the budget workshop to Wednesday, April 5, in order to allow trustees more time to digest information and work with staff so that they can further refine numbers and ensure the materials are clear and concise. 

Additionally, the board removed the payment of Thorndal Armstrong from the consent calendar, and removed the Golf Rate Study from general business in order to allow staff to assess the suggestions received from the community members along with provide the trustees more options related to the rates. 

The consent calendar passed after the agenda was approved, and then the board quickly moved into discussion of the State of Nevada Clean Water Revolving Fund Loan contracts. 

The board voted to execute contracts related to the $16 million loan which coincided with the following item that approved the resolution to provide the issuance of the bond series for the loans. The move will allow funding for the second phase of the Effluent Pipeline Project. 

There was a lengthy discussion around employee recreation privileges following the decision to revoke non-resident employee access to the beaches in compliance with Ordinance 7. 

Director of Human Resources Erin Feore and General Manager Indra Winquest gave a presentation to the trustees about the different options that were presented after working with senior management staff, line level managers, and running surveys of other agencies and their privileges. 

“In the 20 years that I’ve been in management here in the district, just like other employers in the community and in the region, recruitment and retention challenges … are at an all time high,” Winquest said. “So it’s important that whatever we do as a district, we do everything we can to ensure we’re able to recruit and retain quality employees to provide the services that our managers require and I believe that our residents and guests expect.” 

Options that were brought to the board include gas and mileage assistance, additional time off benefits, buddy passes for venues, childcare reimbursement, and an increase in vacation accrual amounts for benefited staff. 

Trustee Ray Tulloch was confused with the benefits that were brought forward by staff, given that they would all have additional costs to the district and didn’t feel that it adequately translated for the lost benefit. 

“These are not costed,” Tulloch said. “There’s not cost associated with any of them.” 

He continued that if staff were surveyed, he believed they would all want “free gas” or “free childcare,” but he felt overall that it needed to be a separate discussion from loss of a recreational privilege. 

Feore pointed out there were very little guidelines given for the topic, and was only hoping to spark conversation. 

“The item is really about how we are investing in our workforce to ensure that we are able to recruit and retain quality employees,” said Winquest. 

Trustee Michaela Tonking agreed with Tulloch and suggested separating the two conversations for future discussion. 

“We should think about how to deal with recruitment and retention as a whole,” said Tonking. “I think it’s a huge issue. I’ve said this for years now that I think we’re not going to have enough employees … I would like to have a conversation on how we recruit and retain employees.” 

Schmitz questioned whether or not Gold Card holders should get free golf, and noted that the benefits given to employees are already generous. She also noted that bonuses could be a potential way to attract employees. 

The trustees instructed Winquest to come back with the options that were favored by the board, including more paid time off in order to give sick employees the ability to take time off when needed. They also requested to see modifications to the overall employee benefit page in order to make it more clear, and to bring back employee recruitment and retention as a separate item. 

Concern over the community’s desires without knowing the cost was also brought up during the discussion of the dog park survey, along with whether or not a survey to determine the need for a dog park was necessary. 

“I feel, as one trustee, that our community has been very clear for many, many years that the priority has been a dedicated dog park,” Schmitz said. “So I don’t really feel we need to do a survey to reaffirm that. I think that has been very clear from our community.” 

The USDA Forest Service site near Incline High School that was being considered was ultimately ruled out by the board, and it was decided that the Village Green is the only viable option for the site. 

Overall, the board directed Winquest to have the Dog Park Committee redesign the survey to determine what the community members want in amenities at the park, along with what they are willing to pay to have them. 

Part of the conversation centered around the many conflicts that occur with the temporary dog park currently at the Village Green, including left-behind dog waste, stream protection, and dog conflicts through not having dedicated, fenced in parks of small and big dogs. 

“We want to do everything as best we can,” Schmitz said. “We want to protect the streams, we want to keep the dogs contained and join things in having fun.” 

In terms of Diamond Peak rate changes for the 2023-24 season, the board discussed at length the decision making behind raising rates for season passes for Picture Pass holders versus Non-Picture Pass holders. 

Tulloch struggled with not raising NPPH prices by a greater amount than $5 while PPH prices would be raised by 10% at the adult rate and higher for other age ranges. 

Schmitz agreed that the $5 increase might be too low, and questioned if the rates for NPPH could be raised to $10. 

The motion was approved with the changes suggested by the board that included a $10 increase to NPPH among other modifications to the memorandum. Tulloch voted against the rates. 

The board also approved the purchase agreement for replacement snowboard equipment for Diamond Peak in the amount of $131,880, and also approved staff to advertise the Request for Proposal document for the proposed management consulting engagement for the district. 

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