Sally J. Taylor

The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association on Thursday struggled with the best use of funds depleted from winter’s emergency marketing campaign.

Following the New Year’s Day closure of U.S. Highway 50 due to storm damage, the association pledged $4,000 to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority for an emergency campaign to advertise alternate routes and good skiing conditions.

With $3,500 left in the bank and new funds from new members uncertain, the association’s board of directors worked to prioritize requests for a total of $3,450 in donations while leaving sufficient funds to distribute the monthly newsletter, which costs about $550 per month.

Echoing the comments of the other directors, associate board member Jerry Bond, with Sunrise Ski Rental, said “I think the newsletter is just untouchable.”

The board considered requests from the Heritage Mural program to donate $500 to commission historical murals on the South Shore; $500 for the campaign to promote the ambulance tax initiative; $750 to help the Lakeside Park Association provide additional crowd control measures along its beachfront on the Fourth of July; and $1,700 to renew a contract with Carl Ribaudo’s Strategic Marketing Group to provide a quarterly report and analysis on lodging statistics.

Following discussion, Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, one of the sponsors of the Heritage Murals, withdrew that funding request.

“You (in the lodging association) have been great for the mural program,” he said. “In no way do we want to be a constraint to your budget. Hopefully January will be better (and the subject can be re-addressed).”

The Lakeside Park Association proposal created the most controversy though it was approved 3 to 2 with 3 abstentions.

Additional portable toilets, trash bins and security is expected to cost the Lakeside Park Association, which opens its private beach for public access on the holiday, $11,000 more than last year.

Last year about 10,000 people crowded onto the beach and lined the street outside the fence to view the fireworks.

With the Fourth of July falling on the weekend and overlapping the Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship, several thousand more visitors are expected to crowd onto a beach shrunken by high water.

The small association with a limited income has appealed for help from other community businesses and organizations, many of whom refer visitors to the beach.

“We’ve asked members of the community to participate in an event that’s going to grow and we want it to grow,” said Ed McCarthy, president of both the Lodging Association and Lakeside Park Association boards.

“This is a crowd control issue,” said board member Pat Ronan, general manager of Lakeland Village. He pointed out that most lodging properties paid for additional security on Fourth of July and voted against the proposal. “This does not, in my opinion, meet the purpose and position of the lodging association. Given the budgetary constraints, it’s not appropriate for the lodging association (to pay for crowd control for one group).”

While board members considered the information provided by the Strategic Marketing Group important, many felt it was available elsewhere or could be provided in a smaller package.

“I feel everybody would like to have it, but the (financial) situation would necessitate paring it down,” said Pembroke Gochnauer, of C&M Rooms.

A decision on that expenditure was postponed to determine if Ribaudo would negotiate a less costly alternative.

On the ambulance tax proposal, County Supervisor John Upton was not available to explain how a donation would be used and some members felt a direct mailing to association members would cost less and be just as helpful.

Property owners in the El Dorado County portion of the basin are being asked to approve, by mailed ballot, continuation of a tax assessment to maintain ambulance service at its current level. The assessment has been in place but the new vote was mandated by passage of Proposition 218.

The board gave the board president the authority to determine whether Upton’s plan was appropriate use of association funds and release or not release the requested $500.

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