Woman feels penalized for finishing BMPs on time: $500 rebate is only available to those finishing erosion control work after the deadline | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Woman feels penalized for finishing BMPs on time: $500 rebate is only available to those finishing erosion control work after the deadline

Adam Jensen
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Jennifer Mescher completed the BMPs for her home in Meyers in October 2006.

Even as a program to provide Lake Tahoe Basin residents with money for the installation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) goes under-utilized, some South Shore residents feel unfairly excluded.

Run jointly by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Tahoe Local BMP Rebate Program had funding to give approximately 80 households on the El Dorado County side of the basin a $500 rebate upon completion of their BMPs.

Under TRPA code, much of the South Shore is listed as “priority two” for BMP implementation. Priority two areas were supposed to implement BMPs by Oct. 15, 2006, but to qualify for the rebate program homeowners were required to complete their BMPs between July 20 and Oct. 15, 2007.

Rewarding people who completed their BMPs after the deadline, while excluding those who completed them before the deadline seems “ridiculous” to Meyers resident Jennifer Mescher.

“I don’t think these people should be penalized, I just think I should be included,” Mescher said in a phone interview this week. “I understand what they’re trying to encourage; why not encourage people to be compliant by the deadline?” Mescher asked.

Mescher completed the BMPs on her Meyers home in October 2006 at a cost of “over $1,000,” but only heard an advertisement for the rebate program on a radio broadcast about two weeks ago.

The TRPA was not previously funded for a rebate program, but about $40,000 in excess California grant funding became available in July.

Using the money to encourage those who had yet to implement BMPs at the time the funds were acquired would have provided the greatest benefit to lake clarity, regardless of the lapsed deadline, according to Julie Regan, spokeswoman for the TRPA.

“The rebate is something we were actually trying to implement a few years ago, but we did not have the funding available for the grant until this year,” Regan said Tuesday.

How the money was distributed still doesn’t sit well with Mescher, who said giving out funds based upon grant availability would cause people to delay constructing their BMPs until funding was available to help pay for it.

About 30 people have signed up for the rebate program, and how excess funds from the program will be spent is still a matter of discussion among TRCD and TRPA officials.

The exact amount of remaining funding is unknown because the rebates will not be issued until later this week.

Remaining funds will need to be spent by March or returned to the state of California, according to Eben Swain, program manager for the TRCD.

Retroactive rebates are unlikely, although the program may be revived in the future, according to Regan.

“We were hoping to distribute more rebates to homeowners,” Regan said. “Now that the program is wrapping up for this year, we’re going to evaluate it going forward.”

Continuation of the project will require discussion between the TRCD and TRPA, as well as finding another funding source.

“I think this was a pilot project that can be used as a learning experience Swain said. “I’d like to see it implemented at a minimum throughout the California side … and hopefully around the basin as a whole.”

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