LTVA passes $2.2 million budget |

LTVA passes $2.2 million budget

by Sally J. Taylor

Despite a last minute appeal for funding for three promotional causes, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board of Directors on Thursday passed the proposed $2.2 million budget without change.

“I feel like Santa Claus running out of toys,” board member Tom Davis said during presentations.

Of the seven-member board, only four were present for the meeting.

Representatives of Heavenly Ski Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort and MediaWest all made presentations for funding.

Jan Vandermade from Heavenly requested that $15,000 be reinstated to the budgeted $85,000 for the promotion of major ski events at the resort. In previous years, the resort has received $100,000 to for the televised events, exposure that is considered better than paid advertising.

In addition to previously hosted events, Heavenly is working on a contract to host the World Cup.

“We’re going up a notch (at the same time funding is going down),” Vandermade said.

Tracy Owen Chapman, from Sierra, appealed to the board for $30,000 to boost promotional efforts on three major snowboarding events planned for the 1998-99 season. Sierra has not previously received funding from the LTVA.

Sierra plans to use the additional dollars to increase advertising exposure for the events, not for Sierra’s production expenses, Chapman said.

Brian Williams of MediaWest, which has the $15,000 contract to manage the LTVA’s Internet web site, asked for an additional $15,000.

The funds are for a cooperative program with the North Shore Resort Association and the Incline/Crystal Bay Visitors and Convention Bureau to increase Lake Tahoe banner exposure on Internet search engines. The North Shore organizations have already agreed to the program.

“Every one of these requests is worthy if $60,000 were available,” said board member Bill Chernock.

A proposal by board member Don Miner to transfer about $44,000 left from a canceled contract for European marketing, from the advertising budget to the funding requests met resistance from staff and the other board members present.

“I would caution you that $44,500 (of the original $60,000 contract) is already built into the proposed marketing plan for Northern Californian and Southern California campaigns,” said Executive Director Terry LeBan.

In the past several months, the LTVA marketing advisory committee has struggled with $400,000 in budget cuts.

Regarding the media advertising schedule, Chernock said, “I’m loath to go there again. As many times as we’ve been through it, (the marketing committee) has been through it five times. …

“Given the state of the budget for 1998-99, I don’t know if we can break away money and help any (of the requests).”

The three voting board members passed the budget as is except for instructions that the marketing committee reconsider finding funds for the cooperative Internet program.

The budget calls for about $338,000 in administration expenses; $100,500 for public relations; $50,000 for sales campaigns; $736,000 for marketing; and $995,000 for advertising. In addition, another $650,000 or more will be applied to advertising for cooperative programs.

In other business:

— Davis reported on a proposal by American Airlines to bring service to the Lake Tahoe Airport from Los Angeles International and San Jose. Another proposal is expected soon from America West for flights from Phoenix.

After a number of items are clarified, Davis said he will make public the American Airlines.

The airline is looking to test new 737-800 airplanes, considered quieter than previous models, at the Lake Tahoe Airport, Davis said.

The proposals for air service resulted from presentations made to five airlines by a panel of local officials along with Vesta Rea of Vesta Rea & Associates.

Talks are continuing with Horizon and Sky West as well as several airlines discussions not a part of the Vesta Rea contract, which has been publicly criticized by some as being a waste of money.

While not addressing the criticism during the meeting, Davis said in a written report that the original contract promised to make presentations to one or two targeted airlines while five presentations were actually made.

“Vesta Rae will continue to follow up through the end (of proposal discussions) even though her contract has expired,” Davis said to the LTVA board.

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