Measure L defeatedPhoto:1051325,left; |

Measure L defeatedPhoto:1051325,left;

William Ferchland

A measure to fund education programs with a $60 annual parcel tax failed with 55 percent of the vote in a victory for time-share owners and defeat for Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

Measure L couldn’t gather enough yes votes to clear the necessary hurdle of two-thirds approval.

“It’s a sad day for the children of South Lake Tahoe but people don’t know it yet,” said Terry Price, a consultant for the measure’s supporters.

Superintendent Diane Scheerhorn said it was too early to say if the district would look at another tax proposal to counter financial losses from declining enrollment and droughts in state funding.

“As we were watching the (results) come in, I’m really dismayed the vote came in as low as it did,” she said.

The defeat means scores of teachers will be looking for work next year, two elementary schools – Al Tahoe and Meyers – will close and programs will be eliminated.

Moans from campaign volunteers filled the South Lake Tahoe Recorder-Clerk and Registrar of Voter’s office when results were released by county election officials.

The absentee results, which were displayed first, showed the most promise with a 59.8 percent approval. Consultants hoped for at least a 60 percent mark from yes voters.

“It’s going to be close,” said volunteer Joy Rothschild.

But as ballots arrived from the surrounding precincts, the approval percentage steadily dropped.

Many supporters blamed the measure’s opposition for the defeat. The time-share industry formed two organizations to fight the measure. They stated the tax was unfair since time-share owners would have been billed $60 for their week stay.

Ed McCarthy, manager of the Americana and Stardust vacation resorts, was overjoyed with the results. If the measure passed, the two resorts would have seen huge increases in their tax bill.

“This is America and I guess justice served us well here,” McCarthy said. “However, we are willing to meet with the school board on something that is fair for everybody.

“They thought that they had an easy time of it because time-share owners are such an easy target because they don’t live up here, they don’t vote up here.”

Bill Crawford, a former city councilmember and retired teacher as well as an outspoken critic of the tax, hoped the community can reconcile its differences and called for a change in district leadership.

“We need to fully investigate the superintendent’s office and how the district has really been managed and administered in the last two to three years,” he said.

Next for LTUSD is tomorrow’s release of the county’s rating for the district’s second interim financial report.

Election officials stated the turnout was higher than expected. Out of 13,457 registered voters, 47 percent cast ballots.

– E-mail William Ferchland at

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