South Lake Tahoe garbage fees going up; city approves contract with VHR monitoring company
With a 4-1 vote, South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 12, approved an 8.81 percent increase for residential garbage pickup and disposal in South Lake Tahoe as requested by contractor South Tahoe Refuse.
Councilmember Brooke Laine was the sole “nay” vote, citing a desire to phase in the increase.
“We have a number of residents on fixed incomes and qualify as low income,” said Laine. “It’s a high number for many of our people to swallow.”
Starting Jan. 1, the rate for unlimited pick-up service in South Lake Tahoe will climb from $26.55 to $28.89, an increase of $2.34 per month.
The rate increase is the result of South Tahoe Refuse’s projected $1.3 million revenue shortfall for 2018 due, in part, to the expiration of a $4.7-million credit paid to ratepayers over a six-year period to compensate for excess rates during the construction of its resource recovery facility.
Partner jurisdictions in the South Lake Tahoe Basin Waste Management Joint Powers Authority (JPA) — residents in the Tahoe Basin portions of El Dorado County and Douglas County — would also see a rate increase.
These jurisdictions will vote on the increases separately.
VHR ENFORCEMENT APPROVED
The city of South Lake Tahoe approved the hire of a third-party service to deal with illegal vacation home rentals (VHRs).
Host Compliance uses a software to scan the nearly 25 different booking websites for VHRs — like Airbnb and VRBO — and determine which properties are unpermitted, haven’t been paying transient occupancy tax (TOT), or have been under-reporting their revenue to pay less TOT.
The company sends out letters to the offenders requesting compliance or payment on behalf of the city. It also provides a 24-hour call center to handle complaints and violations.
The annual cost of Host Compliance is $118,400.
Additionally, City Council passed the budget for the previously-approved hire of three additional VHR-dedicated community service officers (CSO) for an annual cost of $261,936. Further, they increased the lead CSOs position from 30 hours a week to full time, for an additional annual cost of $35,000.
For the immediate future, these costs will be covered with money in the VHR fund. Long-term costs for the expansion will be covered by an increase in VHR permit fees, to be reviewed in spring 2018.
This brings the total number of South Lake Tahoe CSOs to 10 — five of which are dedicated to VHRs.