Voters to decide on STAR’s future
South Lake Tahoe residents agree that there is an overwhelming need for increased recreation in the area. The question is, after 20 years of trying, will the county finally see its goals reach fruition?
The drama may soon conclude when voters either vote for or against the STAR project in September in a special election or in November’s general election.
A special election will cost about the same as a general election which will be expensive, according to Michelle Macintyre, from the El Dorado County elections department.
“$25,000 to $30,000 is not an unreasonable estimate,” Macintyre said.
John Upton is hopeful that the STAR proposal will be on the ballot in a special election Sept. 19. He thinks the issue will receive the attention it deserves rather than being lost in the chaos of a general election.
Bill Crawford, South Lake Tahoe City Councilman, disagrees. He said he supports recreation but believes the plan needs to be open to public discourse for as long as it can before it is voted on. He thinks that a separate election is an attempt to control the vote.
When the votes are in Crawford said that he would stand behind the outcome, no matter which way the voters decide to go.
Crawford admits that he has changed his mind where STAR is concerned because he thinks the process has become too convoluted.
“I am not sacrificing my civil rights because Dan McLaughlin doesn’t agree with it,” Crawford said, referring to a letter to the editor that McLaughlin, chairman of the city of South Lake Tahoe’s Parks and Recreation Commission submitted to the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
“(The city) started out with an innocent effort for a $2.5 million ice rink effort, that is what I voted for,” Crawford said.
The city has since jumped on board the collaborative STAR plan which has worked for two years and combined plans for a city ice rink, a 25-mile bike trail and ball fields.
According to Crawford, the ice rink has a better chance of succeeding on its own.
The City Council still has the option to pursue the ice rink outside of the STAR project.
Upton said that having South Shore’s various agencies active in the process has made it easier than past plans because everyone is making sure that the project will be completed in one fell swoop.
“If you are going to vote no, you are going to vote no on a lot of things and chances are that four out of five people want bike trails (in addition to the other projects),” Upton said.
“The issue is not, for me, whether or not we should have recreation, of course we should,” Crawford said.
“It’s not really known where the funding comes from,” he continued.
The STAR measure would implement an issue bond formula – to be paid in 25 years – that would tax residential properties $18 per year and a set amount for commercial properties, a fee that Upton considers nominal.
A Mello-Roos District, a separate entity with a representative from both the city and county in a Joint Powers Authority responsible for distributing funds from bond revenues, must be created by El Dorado County Board of Supervisors staff and STAR representatives by May 2 for the board to review.
Crawford says that a JPA can create public debt without public consent.
At the present time, no such agreement has been made.
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors agreed to support STAR after Dennis Crabb, consultant, and Craven Alcott, county parks and recreation manager, updated the board Tuesday.
There have been accusations that Upton has received compensation for the hundreds of hours he has worked on STAR.
“I have not received 10 cents for any of the time I’ve spent, nor have I expected it,” Upton said, adding that his upcoming position as campaign coordinator for the election is a paid position.
When campaigning begins Upton will receive $3,000 per month which will come from private donations.
To pass, the ballot requires a two-thirds vote.
“I am in favor of the STAR project,” Steve Weiss, SLT park superintendent, said.
“It’s the best proposal I have seen in 25 years,” Weis added.
If passed, Upton is optimistic that construction for the ice rink will begin summer 2001; ball fields will tentatively be done by spring/summer 2002; the bike trails will add several miles per year until it connects the 9.2-mile stretch between Meyers and Stateline.
Matching Funds and Maintenance of Facilities
1. Matching and Maintenance Funds for Class I Bike Trails (25 miles at $5,000 per mile per year) $125,000 per year
(The city presently has four miles, county has two miles. Matching funds would make available approximately $11 million from state and federal grants)
Maintenance Funds for Tahoe Paradise Park – $50,000 per year.
Maintenance Funds for College Site Field – $50,000 per year.
Total – $225,000
Capital Construction (20-year bonds supported by special tax)
Four fields at college site – $750,000
County matching funds available – $750,000
Subtotal – $1.5 million
Ice Rink – $3.5 million
$4.25 million plus cost of issuance
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