LTVA supports funding city’s airport solicitation program
Vesta Rea of Vesta Rea & Associates pitched her plans to attract commercial air service to the Lake Tahoe Airport on Thursday and won the majority of the directors of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority to fund the undertaking.
The board voted five to one, with Don Miner dissenting and John Wagnong absent, to fund $73,700 of the $81,500 contract using unrestricted contingency funds. The remaining $7,800 is conditional on successful completion of the contract.
Rea has until April to bring back to the city a solid proposal from a major airline.
The contract is divided into phases and the LTVA will be billed following those phases.
“If it works, (transient occupancy taxes) go up, and when TOT goes up, LTVA funding goes up,” said Tom Davis, the city’s representative to the board.
Don Miner, the Douglas County representative to the LTVA board and the dissenter, questioned the precidence of using contingency funds as proposed.
“I don’t believe we should set a policy of pulling money out of the contingency find unless there are deliverables,” he said, also noting that most of the LTVA money comes from Douglas County and the commissioners had not been approached for consideration of the contract.
Other marketing plans that have been cut should also get a crack at the contingency fund, Miner said.
Other members felt that if there was a good chance of success, the subsequent increase in tourism and transient occupancy tax income justified the expenditure.
“If the cost is not too onerous, and we get an airline, that’s what this organization should do. It will benefit Douglas County too,” said Mike Bradford, the representative from the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance. “The question is, what’s the likelihood of success.”
No marketing plan is 100 percent guaranteed, Davis said.
Rea was more positive.
“I’m a poor loser and mean as hell,” she said. “There will be some way to bring proposals for airline service. You may not like them, but there will be proposals. …
“There’s so much here to offer. I can’t envision not being able to sell this place. If I can sell Brownsville (Texas), I can sell Tahoe,” she said referring to a similar contract with that city.
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Thunderstorms made their way through the Lake Tahoe basin this weekend and more rain and cooler temperatures are on tap this week.