Sole incumbent candidate wants to continue the course |

Sole incumbent candidate wants to continue the course

Michael Schnieder

Hal Cole

Age: 49

Education: Bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of California, Davis

Profession: Building contractor

Platform: I’m very proud of the accomplishments of the present City Council over the past four years. Yet with all we’ve accomplished, the best is yet to come. With the ground-breaking of the Park Avenue Project forthcoming, with the downtown ski gondola only months away and preliminary approvals of the convention center, our city is on the verge of the most dramatic face-lift in its history. The greatest risk redevelopment faces is to stop now. I pledge over the next four years to maintain the momentum and complete what we’ve begun.

Question 1: In light of the numerous times the Park Avenue Project has been postponed, should the city spend money for this project before there is a finalized Disposition and Development Agreement with the developer?

Answer: First of all, in order to finalize a Disposition and Development Agreement, we need working drawings that itemize the scope of work each participant is responsible for just as you need a set of plans before you can go to the bank for a loan. This money pays for the city’s portion of that design work and is the city’s responsibility. Secondly, there is an agreement between the city and the developer stating that the developer will reimburse the city should the bond sale be delayed beyond June 1999.

Question 2a: Should the citizens of South Lake Tahoe use their tax money to pay for grant matches which are supposed to come from the pockets of those who use commercial service at the airport?

Answer: Every grant match the city participates in is looked at by the City Council independently. In the case of the airport, we felt that, in order to keep the airport functioning at a basic level, we needed these improvements. Therefore, receiving $600,000 in FAA money for a $30,000 local commitment was an easy decision.

Question 2b: With the success of the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, is there a point where the city must abandon the hope of finding a commercial suitor? If so, has that point been reached?

Answer: Yes, I think so, for the time being. I was hesitant to hire a consultant to find a commercial carrier and said so publicly. In the short term, I believe that we need to market our airport for general aviation which includes not only the private aircraft, but also charters. It is my firm belief that with the completion of our city’s redevelopment and the associated convention/cultural arts center, we can demonstrate to an airline that the demand for airline service will be there on a year-round basis. It’s obvious to me that the only reason a commercial airline has not serviced us is because they do not feel they can make money in the present environment, not because we didn’t give them a flashy enough presentation by a hired consultant.

Question 3: Although eminent domain is a legal process, should the city take property from residents for the good of the public (as it claimed to do in the Tahoe Meadows situation), or should the rights of those who fairly bought their properties take precedent?

Answer: Of all the decisions that have come before the council, ones involving eminent domain are the hardest for me. Property rights are one of the foundations of our country. Public taking of land can only be justified when it is for the demonstrated public good or necessity. In the case of the Tahoe Meadows, the city proposed to build a linear park with a pedestrian and bike trail including curbs and drainage in place of the chain link fence and dirt path. This required acquiring a strip of land along U.S. Highway 50. The city negotiated long and hard with the property owners. We took into account not only value of the property, but also the design of the proposed project. In the end, the majority of the property owners agreed with our plans and rather than let a vocal minority stop the project, we exercised our authority. When completed, I believe this will be one of the most appreciated projects the city has undertaken.

Question 4a: Even though many city residents supported the cut, because South Lake Tahoe is a tourist destination, should more money be put into the Parks and Recreation Department?

Answer: Yes, but I think the community may have to look beyond the boundaries of the city to find the help our recreation department needs. This is due to the fact that our city with a tax base of little more than 20,000 residents has been the primary provider of recreation for most of the South Shore. I feel the county residents in particular are being shortchanged in so far as the majority of taxes they pay for recreation go to the West Slope. I strongly support the creation of a joint powers agreement between the city, county and school district. This would provide a voter-approved mechanism to build and maintain more and better facilities and guarantee local control.

Question 4b: Should there be only one department head for both police and fire?

Answer: I’d rather see the departments under separate leadership. The single department head was done as a cost-cutting measure and I would expect the council to readdress this issue in the future.

Question 5: What should the council’s role, if any, be in the fight against MTBE?

Answer: Everything within our power. This additive is not required to be in the Tahoe Basin’s gas in the first place and its contamination has not only tainted our groundwater, but the lake’s as well.

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