LTVA goes ahead with budget |

LTVA goes ahead with budget

Sally J. Taylor

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board of Directors on Thursday gave final approval to its 1999-2000 budget for the fiscal year that began the following day.

The board approved the $3.1 million budget without changes, allowing the LTVA to be “off and running,” according to LTVA Director Terry LeBan.

The budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 represents a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

The board also approved funds for several winter events, plus dollars for a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency study and a South Shore Tourism Conference. The items were included in the budget proposal.

“I’m looking forward to the next fiscal year because the (funding) issues have been addressed,” LeBan said, referring to questions earlier this year regarding allocations from the city of South Lake Tahoe and Douglas County.

Revenue for the authority comes primarily from transient occupancy taxes collected from lodging properties in the city and the lake portion of Douglas County and is used to promote tourism through a variety of programs.

The city funding for the fiscal year is projected at more than $736,000. Douglas County is expected to provide $326,000 directly and $1.08 million through the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority.

More than $800,000 of the budget is expected to come from businesses participating in various sales and cooperative marketing programs.

The LTVA also receives income from the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and miscellaneous items such as mailing label sales, Internet ads and office space rents.

The bulk of the LTVA’s budget is reserved for advertising and marketing, at 58 percent and 23 percent, respectively. The administration budget is 12 percent of the total, with public relations and sales at 3 percent each and 1 percent listed as miscellaneous.

During the budget planning process, LTVA officials faced an uncertain revenue stream.

In the city, the suggestion in early August to use a portion of the room tax revenue normally allotted to the LTVA for recreational purposes, created an uproar in the business community. At the Aug. 17 City Council meeting, business representatives filled the council chambers to express their frustration over the proposal. After lengthy public comment, the council designated 75 percent of the promotional portion of the TOT – 2 percent of the 10 percent collected from lodging properties – for tourism promotions, mostly through the LTVA. A move that made future funding more certain.

On the Nevada side of the state line, the transfer of room tax revenue from Douglas County coffers to the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority – which was created in 1997 by the Nevada Legislature to manage county promotional funds – created some questions regarding the continuity of LTVA funding.

Historically, Douglas County directly funded the LTVA. Eventually, all the dollars are expected to come through the TDVA. This year, each entity promised a portion of the total Douglas County funding for the LTVA.

With funding secured, the LTVA Board of Directors approved several last minute budget allocations.

— The board approved $500 for the second phase of the TRPA Revenue Feasibility Study, which includes an economic model to determine how proposed taxes would impact the local economy.

— The 1999 South Shore Tourism Conference, planned for sometime in November or December, received $1,500 in funding. The all-day conference is designed to educate those attending about the tourism economy at South Shore, including trends, challenges and opportunities.

— Heavenly’s Winter Celebration received $100,000 for three nationally televised events.

— Sierra-at-Tahoe received approval for $25,000 for its Van’s Triple Crown Championship.

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