City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County play ‘hot potato’ with senior center costs |

City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County play ‘hot potato’ with senior center costs

Claire Cudahy

Who takes care of what? That’s the question members of the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center had for city and county officials at a special meeting held on Thursday.

Ken Sands of the Tahoe Basin Senior Coordinating Council presented a list of projects and repairs that needed to be taken care of at the senior center, ranging from roof repair and water damage to painting and carpeting.

The issue, however, is that government officials can’t seem to agree on who is responsible for these tasks.

While El Dorado County owns the senior center — and the 56-acres that also house the museum, art center and visitor’s center — the city of South Lake Tahoe leases it and manages the tenants.

“Therein lies the problem. We haven’t settled on who is responsible for the repair work,” said El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel. “On the lease with the city it is very clear that they are responsible for maintenance. It’s just what is that maintenance that we’re having a discussion over.”

When the roof on the senior center needed to be replaced, there was also differing opinions on who should pay for the job. The project is set to be completed this summer by the city, though assistant public works director Jim Marino was clear that he did not believe this was the city’s responsibility.

“Most of you are probably aware that our City Council allocated a $100,000 budget towards the roofing replacement of this facility, even though we feel that it was not our responsibility to replace that,” said Marino. “The balance remaining on that account after this roof project is done this summer will be approximately $15,000.”

Marino said that the city will take that money and split it for some of the projects that the seniors brought forth, though he noted that county approval would be necessary to go forward.

Sands expressed frustration over the fact that he had reached out to the city to clear snow off the roof this winter, but was told “they didn’t have the manpower to clear it.” Water has leaked through cracks in the roof created by the freeze-thaw cycle and damaged portions of the building, and buckets are used in parts of the senior center when it rains.

Other senior attendees noted that they did not know where to turn for repair requests — city or county — and said it felt like the agencies are playing “hot potato” with problems pertaining to the building.

Marino said that all repair requests can go through the city, and the two local governments will determine who is responsible for what.

The burden should not fall on the seniors, added South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry.

But the disagreement that dates back to the 1990s may be coming to an end soon.

“We at this table have been discussing whether or not this 56 acres, which is owned by the county, should transfer to the city,” said Kerry.

“[The county and the city] are sharing the cost of a study that will look at what is the cost, what are expenses, what are the revenues of all of these facilities and uses so that the county has a better position to come from. They don’t manage all of this property, so they needed more information.”

When the study is completed, El Dorado County’s Board of Supervisors will decide if they would like to sell the property to the city.

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