South Lake Tahoe City Council approves $83.3M expense budget |

South Lake Tahoe City Council approves $83.3M expense budget

Claire Cudahy
Police, fire and public works account for 51 percent of the general fund expenses.
Courtesy / City of South Lake Tahoe |

South Lake Tahoe City Council unanimously approved an $83.3 million expense budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year on Sept. 20.

City manager Nancy Kerry used the budget presentation to council as an opportunity to reflect on how South Lake Tahoe operated in 2010-12 during the global recession, and how the city is faring now.

“It’s ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’” said Kerry, who used that theme throughout her breakdown of the budget.

From 2010 to 2012, the city of South Lake Tahoe had $5 million annual structural deficits, drained its fund balances and transferred them to the general fund, and laid off 30 percent of its workforce.

On the other hand, said Kerry, the 2017 budget has more than $100 million in financial improvements, is balanced from annual revenues, not fund balances, and is calling for $1 billion in capital investment — a goal the city expects to reach by 2018.

“The Great Recession provided opportunities to be creative and innovative in how we restructure business delivery systems, collaborate as a community and deliver municipal services,” explained Kerry.

“We completely restructured health care benefits saving the community over $40 million, reorganized departments, sought new revenue sources, and leveraged grant funds for necessary projects, creating jobs.”

This is the first budget with projected positive cash flow upon adoption, added Kerry.

This year $83.3 million in expenses is expected to be spent from $85.8 million in revenue and others funds, including $38.4 million from the general fund, leaving a net revenue of $2.5 million; $76 million is budgeted for the 2017 fiscal year, with $8.5 million in capital investment projects carried forward.

The $38.4 million from the general fund revenue is acquired through fees, taxes and public services. Sixty-one percent of that sum comes from Transient Occupancy, sales and property taxes. Revenue from all three of these taxes is on the rise.

General fund expenses account for 44 percent of the city’s total expenditure in 2017. Within those general fund expenses, 51 percent goes towards Police, Fire and Public Works.

The 2016-17 fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2017.

A full breakdown of the city’s 2017 budget will be available soon on OpenGov, an online interactive platform that allows users to see how funds are spent down to the dollar. View the 2015-2016 budget at


Kerry reported that the city is working on streamlining processes in all departments.

The city attorney’s office is currently rewriting the city code, cross training is taking place in most departments, and a complete evaluation of the permitting process is underway in order to get fees down.

Other key highlights include the reinstatement of Battalion Chief positions in the fire department, expanded services in the Police Department, and $52 million in capital improvement projects grant funding for Public Works.

“Government can’t be all things to all people,” said Kerry, adding that the city needs to focus on its core services going forward and be as efficient as possible.

The budget presentation is available for public viewing through the Sept. 20 council agenda at

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