SLT budget balanced, approved |

SLT budget balanced, approved

Griffin Rogers

Continuing on the road to recovery from the 2007-09 recession, the City of South Lake Tahoe has managed to balance its general fund budget for the second straight year with anticipated revenues and expenses.

Councilmembers adopted the 2014/15 budget at a special meeting Wednesday morning. Among other things, the $73 million budget reflects a “fiscally conservative approach” and an upward trend in revenues, according to the city.

It also includes $600,000 in capital investment into Regan Beach improvements, a bike park and recreation.

However, there are still some looming concerns. The city is faced with $75 million in unfunded pension and retiree health care liability that has stemmed from rising health care costs nationwide, according to an Oct. 1 budget message written by City Manager Nancy Kerry.

In the message, Kerry explains that the multi-million dollar debt, if left unchecked, would “be collected by the City from our local residents and in turn sent to retirees, most of whom live outside the City.”

There are also hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities of other local and state government agencies — including utility companies — that local residents “simply can’t afford,” Kerry continued.

In order to prevent the community from becoming financially crippled for years, Kerry emphasized that substantial reductions in both annual expenses and unfunded liabilities is necessary.

Consequently, more than half of the city’s employees, whose salaries constitute 89 percent of the general fund, had already agreed to a new wage and benefit structure earlier this week, according to Kerry.

The contracts are said to provide the city’s employees with “greater assurance and more reliable benefits in the future.” They will also reduce the financial burden on South Lake Tahoe residents, according to the city manager.

“As a result of the employee agreements being reached today,” Kerry wrote in her letter, “the residents of South Lake Tahoe will have the opportunity for a future in which community investment becomes routine, practiced and successful.”

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