Questions linger as chamber move nears
The joint chamber concept appears to be moving along, with a near-complete audit, Nevada office lease and growing dispute over who’s running the organization.
The Tahoe Douglas Chamber is due to move out of Roundhill Square and into the Prim building called Edgewood Village at the corner of Kingsbury Grade and Highway 50 by Nov. 1. The South Lake Tahoe Chamber is expected to join the Nevada chamber, along with Douglas County Administration and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in shared office space estimated to cost the agencies $286,000 a year.
The LTVA has listed its building on Ski Run Boulevard for $649,000 and will use the sale proceeds to upgrade the visitor center where the South Lake Tahoe Chamber offices now stand and start a new one on the bottom floor of the new offices.
The LTVA, which will pay $3,125 a month for rent, requested an audit of the Tahoe Douglas Chamber budget, and Douglas County obliged. The question of the chamber’s finances prompted a bit of concern in July’s LTVA meeting from Don Miner, who’s a member of both boards. Miner hasn’t returned phone calls to the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
Tension is high in this politically charged move.
Although done last Friday, Kathy Lewis of the Finance Department declined to comment on the audit until the report is finalized later this week.
Both chambers – between them a 1,550-member database – are expected to kick in an annual $75,000 each and manage the lease for the county.
Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said the local government will be listed as a tenant. Otherwise, the laws would require prevailing wages to union members be paid.
Like the choice of executive director, the finances behind the move has undergone its share of criticism.
“The Tahoe Douglas Chamber signed the lease without the square footage. Now who in business would do that?” South Lake Chamber board member Tom Davis asked.
Tahoe Douglas Chamber President Sue Lowe said the full lease is in the process of being finalized.
Some have suggested California would be more burdened by the move because it pays $1 a year for rent at its South Lake Tahoe chamber offices, while LTVA owns its building outright. But others contend the move will help LTVA get out of a tired office and run significantly upgraded venues for visitors, including interactive displays.
“The new organization is going to be so financially burdened it would be ineffective,” said South Lake chamber member Bob Attinger, who took his gripe to the South Lake Tahoe City Council budget session Tuesday. The insurance agent, who has business interests in both states, said the concept was noble but suggests the marriage of the two chambers be annulled. He asked the council to withhold funding to the chamber and LTVA because of his unhappiness with the latest – the selection of an outsider other than South Lake Chamber Executive Director Duane Wallace taking over the South Shore-area organization.
Both chamber board presidents Carl Ribaudo and Sue Lowe chalked up the dissension to history and resistance to change.
“There are always going to be people who find fault with making change. The whole goal of our new organization is to focus on one community. It isn’t about California versus Nevada,” Lowe said.
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