Kahle cutbacks contemplated | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Kahle cutbacks contemplated

Elaine Goodman
Jonah M. Kessel / Tahoe Daily Tribune
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Kahle Community Center could face reduced hours, scaled-back programs or higher user fees next year as Douglas County grapples with a budget shortfall.

But the popular recreation center on Kahle Drive in Stateline is not being considered for closure, Douglas County Parks and Recreation officials said Monday.

A complete closure of Kahle is “very unlikely,” said Recreation Superintendent Brian Fitzgerald.

“I wouldn’t see closing the place down,” Fitzgerald said.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Morgan said comments he made at a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting last week regarding “full-scale facility closures” applied to closures being considered for the campground at Topaz Lake and the county fairgrounds – but not Kahle Community Center.

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Rather, Kahle could see its hours cut back, such as with Sunday closures. The department tried out that schedule over the summer. An earlier closing time on Saturdays also would save money.

Special events, including the Easter egg hunt, also might be eliminated, Morgan said. (This year’s Tot Egg Hunt scheduled March 21 in Kahle Community Park is not threatened.) In addition, vacant positions within the department are being kept open.

The department also will take a look at raising user fees at Kahle, Fitzgerald said. Kahle recoups about 75 percent of its expenses through user fees – a factor that makes it unlikely the facility would close, he said.

Faced with dwindling revenue from sales tax and hotel-room tax, the department is looking to trim about 8 percent from its budget.

The recreation division’s budget is about $2.2 million, and of that, Kahle’s operating budget is about $747,000.

Budget woes stemming from Douglas County’s room-tax fund aren’t new.

Douglas County’s Parks and Recreation Department once received 80 percent of the room-tax revenues, but with the passage of Nevada Assembly Bill 616 in 1996, a portion of those revenues were siphoned off for tourism-promoting entities such as the Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley visitors authorities.

Per that legislation, the percentage of funding dedicated to tourism promotion increased every year until 2007, when tourism received a maximum 65 percent of the room tax, Morgan said.

The remaining 35 percent amounts to about $2 million, Fitzgerald said, and it’s split between parks, recreation, libraries and senior services.

Libraries and senior facilities also are facing the budget crunch.

Library Director Linda Deacy said the Library Board probably will have to cut expenses at least another $50,000 to $60,000 this year, primarily in salaries. The challenge for library officials is assuring essential services aren’t cut, but the library gets busier when the economy is depressed, Deacy said.

“We’ll probably have to cut one eight-hour day at the lake and shorten hours in the valley,” she said. “More people need computers to apply for jobs, write résumés and cover letters and seek government programs for help.”

The budget cuts being considered would take effect in the new fiscal year, starting July 1. The Douglas County Commission will hold budget workshops this month and is expected to give county staff direction on how to proceed.

The Parks and Recreation Department budget is scheduled for review March 19.

” Susie Vasquez of The Record-Courier also contributed to this report.


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