Council seeks input on snow removal fee |

Council seeks input on snow removal fee

Eric Heinz

City Council decided Tuesday during its meeting to table a decision to put a ballot measure regarding its snow removal fees and set up public hearings to give residents a chance to provide feedback.

In order to finance its snow removal equipment maintenance, the City of South Lake Tahoe has proposed a ballot measure to increase a snow removal fee from $20 to $40 per parcel of land, with the possibility of an annual cost-of-living increase clause.

Council members and public works officials said the city’s current arsenal of snow removal tools is in need of repair if not replacement.

Since 1989, the cost of snow removal has been $20 per parcel of land owned and, with more than 11,000 parcels of land in town, the revenues are about $222,000 per year, according to the city staff recommendation document. Maintenance on equipment costs about $209,000, according to city three-year averages. In total, the city spends more than $1.5 million on snow removal operations and equipment each year but receives more than $800,000 back in Caltrans reimbursements for state highway maintenance, according to city documents.

“The snow removal fleet is aging and undependable,” the staff report stated. “An additional funding source for equipment replacement needs to be identified.”

In 2005, a similar proposal for a higher snow removal tax failed to pass. In order for the ballot measure to pass, it needs more than a two-thirds majority in favor on the November 2014 ballot.

One of the snow blowers is more than 40 years old, and the average age of the snow removal equipment is a more than 19 years old, council members said.

According to city officials, the city has 12 graders it uses for snow plows — not including the airport’s. The city has some snow removal equipment that has debt service on which it will pay annually through 2016, officials said.

Public inspection of the proposed ballot initiative is stated to begin in August 2014.

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