‘No confidence’ declared in 2 BID board members | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘No confidence’ declared in 2 BID board members

Susan Wood

With the ebb and flow of South Lake Tahoe’s business improvement district to promote tourism, the 11-member board issued a vote of “no confidence” on Wednesday to two members who are suing the city over the district formation.

Missy Springer – a board member representing Fresh Ketch, a property of Camp Richardson Resort – initiated the action against John Cefalu and Patrick Martin. It passed by a 6-to-5 margin. Paul Bruso, Lori London and Victor Babbitt joined the two men in the no vote, but they were outnumbered.

“Now what have you accomplished?” Cefalu asked the board rhetorically.

He and Martin aren’t censured and can still vote. But the move is a heads-up notice to the city.

As the conduit for the district formation, the local government will receive a letter from the board regarding the action. The City Council holds the authority to remove BID members.

The BID was developed in February to offset budget cuts in marketing subsidies to the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. The city budget cuts amounted to $753,000 over two years. The two marketing arms ended up with about $326,000 for this fiscal year. And the city agreed two months ago to throw in $70,000 to the BID to make up for the exemption of lodging properties – which will pay $1.1 million into annual coffers through transient occupancy tax collections.

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The next city budget starting Oct. 1 remains a question mark, with those discussions taking off next month.

As a measure of support to those wanting to go forward, a majority of council members have expressed the presumption the lawsuit will soon wither away and urged the board to hang in there.

“There is no way (the plaintiffs are) going to prevail in this lawsuit,” Councilman Mike Weber said. His comment followed a meeting last week in which the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association threatened to pull its support if the properties don’t get more representation.

City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo told the BID board Wednesday its money estimated at between $280,000 and $300,000 could be tied up in the courts until March. The city was told by the court a few weeks ago that it can collect the money but not spend it. DiCamillo said she’ll file a motion to the court to release the money.

“I don’t think the court will give us free reign to spend the money,” said BID board member London, an attorney herself.

With two board members alleging enough flaws in the BID to facilitate a legal challenge, the meeting atmosphere has been emotional and tense at times. The group has met since April. Their differences in opinion have occupied much of the meeting dialogue, and yesterday’s was no exception. But many members encourage that as a welcome mat to their diversity.

The group is leaning toward taking a break in September, while Chairwoman Julie Threewit is out of town.

Baby steps are the operative words to describe the scenario.

— The board has taken steps for nonprofit status, which may be finalized within two months. A subcommittee is working on a draft of the group’s bylaws.

— The city approved the board’s revised version of an assessment formula, written by a consultant paid for by the city and the chamber. The fairness of the formula has proven to be a sticking point for the three plaintiffs, including Lou Pierini running for El Dorado County supervisor, and some vocal business owners since the BID was created in February.

— And notices have gone out charging the city’s 4,353 businesses with a fee that promotes the South Shore. The yearly assessment ranges from $30 to $3,000.

— The board has heard some presentations and has opened up most of next week’s meeting to take in more. Those wanting a piece of that pie are invited to attend, with the understanding the BID only has control over $73,000 – contributions by the city and Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Tourism Promotion

Business Improvement District meeting

Call for special event and marketing presentations

7:30 a.m., Aug. 24

City Council Chambers

1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.