When BID money is returned, suit will be dropped | TahoeDailyTribune.com

When BID money is returned, suit will be dropped

Susan Wood

If the City Council abides by the recommendations of the Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District board to disband, it will return more than $235,000 to South Lake Tahoe business owners.

In fact, City Finance Director Christine Vuletich reported Wednesday the amount will probably increase given that the department is still processing payments. The city is holding the money amounting to $30 to $3,000 from each business annually in a trust fund.

“What we do can be undone. That decision will be made by council,” City Manager Dave Jinkens said.

When asked if the city would return the money with interest, Mayor Kathay Lovell said she doesn’t expect the city would do such a thing. It’s too soon to tell how the BID would be dissolved. It’s expected to come before the panel for its one meeting slated for Dec. 13.

Returning the money was part of a three-part request by the board, which voted Tuesday to call it quits. The turbulent district that formed in February ended with handshakes. It was created to compensate for lost marketing subsidies to the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

Lou Pierini, one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the formation of the TPBID, said he’s insisting the money be returned in order for them to drop the lawsuit pending in El Dorado County Superior Court. BID board member Patrick Martin expressed a similar sentiment Tuesday night.

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Another request from BID board members was for the city to support a separate BID that the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association has considered to fund marketing efforts. It intends to take the $1.1 million collected annually from guests through a $1.50 per room, per night auxiliary tax to subsidize the chamber and LTVA. The group will need the support of the city to enact that BID.

The other recommendation calls for the city to get behind formation of a Highway 50 business improvement district on businesses with adjoining property lines to pay for maintenance on the proposed $32 million curb-and-gutter project. Maintenance has been estimated at $350,000 annually.

The long-awaited project involving multiple agencies has been bandied about by Caltrans and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The regulatory agency is charged with combining the funding package to build the two-phased project. The first phase runs between Trout Creek and Ski Run Boulevard. The second phase includes the section between Trout Creek and the “Y.”

Caltrans and TRPA have discovered construction costs have gone up, almost doubling the cost of the first phase to $23 million. Construction includes sidewalks, curbs and gutters, landscaping, lighting and drainage systems.

“Things change all the time. We need to collectively work together to get this funding package,” TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan said.