South Tahoe candidates present opinions, ideas as election nears |

South Tahoe candidates present opinions, ideas as election nears

City Council Candidate: Michael Phillips

Age: 33

Professional: Service Manager for Lake Tahoe Auto Village

Education: Automotive Technical School

Political Experience: Vice Chair of the Planning Commission and President of the Clean Tahoe Program

1) How do you plan on dealing with city budget limitations?

“Basically we have a $15 million checkbook for the city and it is easy to spend someone else’s money,” Phillips said. “I feel that there needs to be some accountability for what comes in and what goes out.”

He feels very confident in City Manager David Childs, but is disappointed about the state that the budget is now in.

“I feel that we have had some budget issues hidden from the council and maybe the council didn’t ask,” Phillips said. “Maybe it wasn’t presented right, and I feel it was run kind of amuck for some time.”

Because many of the city’s revenues have been flat for years, he wants to reevaluate were the money comes from and make some increases to keep up with inflation.

“I would like to get the economy strong within itself and have the tourism be a bonus.”

Phillips wants South Lake Tahoe to be a town that invites tourism, not a tourism town. He wants to encourage local spending, something he feels is largely absent due to less expensive products in areas such as Reno.

“1 percent of our sales tax goes directly to the city,” he said.

2) How do you think we need to handle the airport?

“The airport I believe has been choked for the past 20 years,” he said.

He said that because of restrictions by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, including noise and sign restrictions, the airport has gotten in the position it is in today.

“It’s a dollars game right now whether we use it or lose it,” Phillips said.

He said that he wants to create a partnership with Douglas County to help finance the airport.

But, disregarding the finances, Phillips believes that the airport needs to be there for public safety reasons such as a fire, flood or an earthquake.

3) What steps do you think we need to take in redevelopment?

Phillips said that we need to hold the developers accountable, and said that he is not happy that American Skiing Company was able to build the Gondola while delaying construction of the Grand Summit Resort Hotel for an additional year.

“As a citizen we need to expect progress,” he said. “This project is way overdue.”

He believes in keeping developers to their time line and is not happy about continual extensions that American Skiing Company has been granted.

“We did our part, now you do your part, and your delays are costing us,” Phillips said.

He believes that if the city can’t afford to start a project it should wait until resources become available.

He is happy to see the Marriott join the Park Avenue Redevelopment project because of the diversity it will add.

4) What steps do we need to take to protect the environment and to implement the Environmental Improvement Plan?

“I think part of protecting the environment is redevelopment,” he said.

Phillips believes that the long-term planning, which includes curbs, gutters and sidewalks is essential to preserve the clarity of the lake.

He wants to get people out of their cars to reduce pollution. He believes that valet parking at the Marriott is a positive step to encourage walking and use of public transportation.

He also sees the planned bike trails as a positive contribution.

Phillips said that a good transportation system will be a large benefit to the environment and sees a commercial airport as a good way to limit the influx of automobiles.

“Looking back 15 to 20 years, we were all ignorant about the environment,” he said.

But he feels that the environmental agencies have done a good job at raising awareness. He feels the Environmental Improvement Plan is right on track and sees curbs, gutters, sidewalks and retention ponds as positive steps.

“All we have to do is follow through,” he said.

Phillips wants to maintain an awareness of the impacts that business has on the environment and said the city needs to be careful not to over develop.

5) How can we handle affordable housing for low-wage earners who support the tourism industry?

“I am a supplier of affordable housing,” he said. “I see the need.”

He wants to make incentives for affordable housing. He suggests waiving permit fees and mitigation fees and providing low interest loans to those who will provide affordable housing.

6) What is your goal as a City Council member?

Phillips said that he wants to work as a member of a team to preserve South Lake Tahoe’s quality of life and wants to concentrate on long-term planning to achieve this goal.

“I would like to see the people who work here to live here and enjoy all that this place has to offer,” he said.

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