Letter to the editor- Where is the fiscal management?
South Lake Tahoe
To the editor:
Let’s get a few things straight. According to recent articles in both the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the chamber of commerce newsletter, the city of South Lake Tahoe government is approaching a fiscal crisis. City leaders are anticipating a $2 million shortfall at a time when the street maintenance department utilizes two 25-year-old snowblowers, the fire department drives two 18-year-old engines, and the parks department can’t even maintain a drip system along the new linear pathway.
Meanwhile, the already slim profit margins of the airline industry have deteriorated to the point where the majority of the major airlines have been forced to make significant layoffs and one small airline has closed its doors permanently. Due to the recent terrorist attacks and the demand for changes in how the airline industry operates, it seems safe to say that their infrastructure costs will continue to escalate even with financial assistance from the federal government. In addition, the tourism business is already beginning to feel the effects of the attacks with declining reservations.
On a similar tragic note, the City Council recently voted to spend $25,000 on another airline consultant (whatever happened to Vista Rea’s report and how much was spent on that one?) This was the recommendation of yet another local consultant, who along with others is urging the city to look several years down the road and to give the strategic plan (yet to be developed) time to work. Despite warnings of an impending crisis and the possibility of looking for more cuts in other departments, next year’s budget once again includes $600,000 in airport subsidies.
So, while the city government approaches a budget deficit and vital city services continue to be neglected, the esteemed City Council continues to dream of airliners full of tourists landing at the Lake Tahoe Airport. They continue to argue for the necessity of the airport in times of emergencies, even with a new helipad in the works at Barton Hospital and the close proximity of a wildland firefighting base in Minden, Nev. They continue to scare people into thinking that we might owe the FAA millions in the repayment of loans if subsidies are eliminated and they continue to disregard the airport’s potential as a general aviation facility only. As the tourism industry comes face-to-face with unprecedented hurdles, our city leaders need to wake up, learn from past mistakes and develop a fiscally conservative approach to the Lake Tahoe Airport, which more than likely will never include tourism-based commercial air service.
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This past year has been a rollercoaster for the Lake Tahoe region. As the coronavirus pandemic dragged on, undeterred visitors continued to flock to the area.