Majority say yes to Measure Z
A measure that taps visitors and business owners to cover city budget deficits passed with little problem Tuesday night.
With all 10 precincts reporting, Measure Z was approved by nearly 55 percent of the voters. The measure is expected to raise about $1.3 million a year for four years.
The money will be spent by the City Council to maintain a variety of programs at the fire and police departments, the Senior Center, the Parks and Recreation Department and other branches of the city.
“I’m happy, real pleased,” said South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Mike Chandler.
The money provided by the measure will allow the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department to maintain the “status quo,” Chandler said.
Gerry Orton, a 29-year resident of South Lake Tahoe and consultant for a campaign that backed Measure Z, was smiling Tuesday night.
“The city needs an influx of capital,” Orton said. “The state has taken so much money away. We’ve lost over $14 million in nine years.”
The measure adds $1 a day to the existing lodging tax. If there is a natural disaster, or the state again takes a large amount of money from the city, the increase required by the measure will top out at $1.50. The city estimates it will collect $900,000 with the measure.
Business owners will be affected by Z with an increase in their annual license fee. About 70 percent of the city’s roughly 3,300 businesses will see a $50 hike in the cost of their license. The measure also raises the ceiling on business license fees from $1,500 to $3,000. The city estimates the tax will contribute about $450,000 a year to its coffers.
Measure Z was backed by a grass roots coalition of police and fire professionals, the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Realtors, senior citizens and others. The coalition, called “Keep the City Safe: Vote Yes on Measure Z,” formed after the city proposed cutting $600,000 of city programs.
“So many people were protesting the cuts, the only thing left on the table was revenue,” said Duane Wallace, executive director at the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and member of the coalition.
“It’s a bridge loan from the community while the city get its financial act together. Because it ends in four years it keeps everybody’s feet to the fire.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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