Transportation director exits |

Transportation director exits

by Greg Risling

Tahoe Transportation District Executive Director Richard Hill quit Friday, and expressed the hope his salary will be used to fund services.

Hill will remain with the agency for 90 days, a condition of his contract. Hill is paid $40,250 and approximately 25 percent of TTD’s budget is spent on administration.

“This was purely my decision,” he said. “I’d rather contribute my salary to make sure some of the projects are funded.”

Hill’s resignation caps off a tumultuous two months. The TTD board voted in February to take Tahoe’s only lakewide transit system, the Lake Lapper, off the road after a two-year grant expired.

The Lapper’s fate may have been in part due to the continual delay of the 1997-98 budget. The board fumbled around with the complex budget for several months before its conceptual approval on Friday. The board projected last month that the district would be at least $27,000 in the red at the end of this fiscal year.

The vacancy may threaten TTD’s very existence, according to TTD Boardmember John Upton. Without an executive director at the helm, finding new funding sources will be left to other affected agencies. Upton said it will be incumbent upon those groups to help carry the workload.

“Right now I don’t see us in a financial position to hire another executive director,” Upton said. “Beyond July 1, we simply don’t know where the money will come from besides rental car mitigation fees.”

The money generated by rental cars is the biggest contributor to TTD’s budget. But during the last year, revenues from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency haven’t met budget projections. As a result, TTD failed to pay transit contractors on time and did not have the money to continue the Lake Lapper and other programs.

TTD’s fiscal problems will have an immediate impact on transit in the Tahoe Basin. Funding has not been secured for the East Shore Shuttle, a summer system that carries passengers from Incline Village and Spooner Summit to the area’s secluded beaches. A South Shore trolley system that runs from the casinos to Emerald Bay may lose some district funds.

Hill’s salary might be used to support the Lapper and East Shore Shuttle. But finding permanent funding sources to keep the transportation in place is a major problem.

Hill came to Tahoe in 1996 after turning down a job with the Seattle ferry system. Under his leadership, he helped obtain the California Department of Transportation grant to support the Lake Lapper, started the East Shore Shuttle last year and lobbied for a special “urban” designation for the Tahoe Basin. He also expanded the TTD board to represent both private and public entities.

Besides drafting a budget, Hill attended meetings on behalf of the agency and prepared and wrote staff reports.

“Everybody expressed satisfaction with Richard’s job performance,” said TTD Chairman Kevin Cole. “I think the sentiment was that we asked him to do too much.”

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