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Lake Tahoe event center, your support needed now (Guest opinion)

Carol Chaplin
Guest column
Carol Chaplin
Brian Walker

With coronavirus impacts being our community’s major priority, we hope you’re staying safe and encourage everyone to stay at home and follow directions from health organizations so we can return to our jobs, schools, and normal lives safely, as soon as possible.

While health well-being is the leading concern, the reality of long-term economic impacts from this terrible virus makes the need to plan for a secure future a priority now more than ever.

The opportunity to invest in the long-term health of our economy is before us now with the event center bond issuance, the final step in the project’s approval process by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

It will be voted upon at the commissioners’ April 16 meeting. We need your support at this meeting so that we can quickly begin the road to recovery and provide hope for our residents and businesses.

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The event center represents a new and unparalleled venue for conventions, special events and entertainment on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.

It would generate economic vitality with an estimated tax surplus of approximately $1 million and overall economic impact to our South Shore of $40-$60 million per year by attracting business in traditionally slower shoulder seasons; providing for year-round employment for 350-550 locals (plus nearly 800 construction jobs); and diversifying the resort economy by aligning with the destination’s shift from gaming to recreation and entertainment.

That additional revenue from visitors’ sales and transient occupancy tax will benefit the entire county, including Tahoe Township and the Carson Valley: schools, police, fire departments and roads, as well as a long-desired transportation system to efficiently link the South Shore.

We’ve all witnessed how the Heavenly Village redevelopment has helped South Shore – and the 55% increase in property value in South Lake Tahoe within the California redevelopment district. The event center represents a game changer and major attraction.

We ask for your support by sending a short email from the convenience and safety of your home to the Douglas County commissioners by Tuesday, April 14.

Will you take just two minutes to state you’re in favor of the project and list one or more of the benefits above?

To date, there have been numerous public meetings and presentations to various groups and boards including the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority, the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The TRPA Governing Board unanimously approved the event center project two weeks ago. The project will be a catalyst for a robust transit system as well as provide air, scenic and water quality improvements. The Douglas County Commissioners’ meeting is the final step to make it a reality.

Per Douglas County, the project requires no tax increases for residents.

Funding will come from three sources: $34 million or 19% via Douglas County Redevelopment Area No. 2, created in 2016 to strengthen the area’s economic base through focused attention and financial investment; a $5 per night lodging surcharge on each room at Tahoe Township properties (casinos/hotels, Lodge at Edgewood and vacation rentals) will account for 43% of debt service to repay the bonds; and current transient lodging license tax and transient occupancy tax for the remaining 38%.

The 138,000 square-foot event center will be located adjacent to Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa in Stateline on property donated by Edgewood Tahoe.

For more information, details and FAQ, please visit: https://tahoedouglasva.org.

A few may react to the current coronavirus situation and future economic fears and question the timing. However, now is the time, more than ever, to move forward with enthusiasm, imagination, confidence and hope to protect our future.

Please stay safe, stay at home and stay healthy.

Thank you.

Carol Chaplin is the chief executive officer and president for Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.


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