Raising taxes is last resort | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Raising taxes is last resort

What to do with the airport?

Imagine if the airport in South Lake Tahoe were run as a business. Investors in such an imaginary business would expect a return on their investment. The city invests $400,000 each year to keep the airport open. In order for the city to recoup this cost, the airport needs to generate $4 million in gross room sales per year ($4 million times 10 percent TOT = $400,000). But, there is more to the story.

The city of South Lake Tahoe has got taxpayers from all over the county, state and country to invest over $26 million in the airport since they purchased it from the county for $4 (one dollar). If these taxpaying investors had to be repaid, that would mean an additional $2.6 million in debt repayment per year ($26 million at 8 percent over 20 year term). This means an additional $26 million in gross room sales per year would be needed to generate $2.6 million in TOT collections. (Aren’t these numbers great?)

Unfortunately for the city, there has not been an increase in gross annual room revenues of $30 million or even $4 million dollars to offset the cost of the airport. So, the city needs more money and the City Council is asking taxpayers to pay for it out of their pockets. It is the classic example of redistribution of wealth; take from the taxpayer and give to the local city project. The pitch is that the tax is not levied on locals, just visitors and businesses.

However, I will point out to the city that each dollar taken by the city from the visitor or business, is one less dollar the visitor or business has to spend. Measure Z is the latest example of the wealth redistribution principle.

Now the airport story gets really good. You see, in addition to the $26 million of taxpayer money the city has already spent, the airport needs to be repaved again and the estimated price tag is $14 million. The city is broke to the tune of $2.5 million, but they figure the taxpayers won’t have a problem paying another $14 million on the airport.

Why? Because it is the perfect stealth tax for the perfect stealth city project. (I use the phrase stealth because of all of those stealth commercial jets that have been landing at the airport lately.) The airport happens to be a very expensive stealth city project that no one in the city would be willing to spend $40 million on, so they make taxpayers pay for it.

Do we really need to shake down the visiting taxpayer for more money to pay for this city project? No! Imagine turning a $2.5 million deficit into a $2.5 million surplus!

How? By selling the airport for $5 million. The city could subdivide the land into 100 lots and sell them for $50,000 each. Maybe the Tahoe Conservancy would give the city $5 million for it. How about selling it to the Washoe tribe for $5 million, then let them put a casino on the property to raise annual city revenues?

Raising taxes should be used as the last option, not the first. Don’t be fooled by the “chicken-little-sky-is-falling-act” the politicians are trying to pull. Put the politicians to task. Vote NO on raising taxes; note NO on Measure Z.

Larry Pedigo

South Lake Tahoe

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