Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8 SLT city manager observations

Electronic Version
April 8, 2008


“When we’re convinced we’re right, we don’t really want other people’s opinions. We want submission. We want obedience to our opinions. We want to clone our people in our image. ‘If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.’ “ Stephen Covey, First Things First

“Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.”
Mohandas Gandhi

In this Edition:

State Budget Discussions and Update
56 Acre Project
Transportation in High Gear
State Budget Crisis Impacts Women’s Center
Update on Teamwork Needed to Fight Graffiti Etc.
Invitation Extended to Scottsdale Mayor

(Reprinted from the League of California Cities)

Senate Budget Committee Holds Second Hearing on State-Local Fiscal Relationship
“On Thursday, April 3, the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review held its second hearing on the history of the state-local fiscal relationship. In the previous hearing, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) reviewed its perspective on the past 35 years of this relationship. Local government representatives were invited to provide their perspective at the second hearing.
Ontario City Manager Greg Devereaux and League Deputy Executive Director Dwight Stenbakken represented cities. They provided suggestions for improving the fiscal relationship between the state and city government in California. These include:
Infrastructure Funding: This is a critical area of concern for cities when focusing on the urban development of local communities. Without proper financial tools to support infrastructure for urban development, cities will not be able to properly meet density and transit-oriented development goals under green house gas reduction legislation. The following was recommended:
• The two-thirds voting threshold for local government general obligation bonds should be lowered to a majority vote, the same threshold for state general obligation bonds, or, if unachievable, a 55 percent voter approval threshold, the same threshold now in law for school capital bonds; and
• Lower the two-thirds voting threshold for countywide transportation votes. A number of such county votes have considerable voter support, but fail with voter support in the low 60th percentiles.
Re-examine the Sales Tax Base: The state and local government tax base for sales taxes should be broadened. The sales tax base has been considerably narrowed over the years with legislatively enacted sales tax exemptions or erosion through decisions made by the Board of Equalization (BOE). As a result, the narrow base makes the sales tax more vulnerable than it has to be and it is a tax that is growing in disparity from the economic realities of a 21st century economy. Expanding the base of the sales tax would begin to meet these problems.
Stability is Key in Any Proposal: Whatever direction that the Committee and ultimately the legislature and Governor take to reform/rebuild/remake the state and local fiscal relationship, stability is a key principle for local government. The stability afforded local governments in Proposition 1A (2004) gives local government the ability to plan public services in a more rational and effective manner. Without this stability, local governments will again be forced to look over their shoulder every time the state budget is in a deficit situation.
Redevelopment is an Important Financial Tool: The Committee was reminded that redevelopment is one of the more important tools for financing infrastructure, necessary to meet state goals relating to low and moderate income housing as well as transit-oriented development. Without redevelopment, there would have to be a substitute revenue source to address these priority infrastructure issues…
Counties Testify
The counties were represented by two county Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), one current and one retired. They focused on the many state programs run/administered by counties. Behind this discussion is the motivation for the state to explore opportunities for program "realignments" that shift state programs to counties presumably along with the revenue to adequately cover the cost.
While there have been some successes in program realignment in the past, counties are always cautious that realignment proposals don't assign considerable new responsibilities to counties and fall short on proper funding. They also shared a perspective of some county officials that redevelopment agencies in cities negatively impact state and county finance.
Next Step
Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), Budget Committee chair, announced that the Committee would like proposals to be submitted before the next full Committee hearing. This hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 24. The timing will allow Committee members time to vet any proposals and work on any Committee projects before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May Budget Revise.”
The State and local agencies are struggling with ways to cut cost of State government and sustain State and local government operations. Adequate investment in infrastructure (roads, drainage, transportation, sidewalks etc) and the maintenance of this infrastructure are critical long-term issues facing South Lake Tahoe and other California cities. Mechanisms to finance the capital and maintenance and operations costs for this infrastructure needed (and sometimes required improvements e.g. storm water management plan), must be found. State and local governments must set priorities of how they use existing funding and determine what projects are needed and provide the most benefit for the most people. Where programs like storm water management at the city level are required by the Federal government to be implemented, new sources of revenue to pay for these mandates must be found. Growing and diversifying the local economy is the single-most important avenue to meet City short and long-term needs and this includes capturing escaping retail sales out of the City limits.


The 56-Acre Project Manager Deb Vreeland provides the following update on this comprehensive planning project.

“At its March 2008 Board of Directors' meeting, the California Tahoe Conservancy approved a Planning Grant to proceed to final design and permitting for site improvements at the El Dorado Beach portion of the 56-Acre Recreation Improvement Project.

Conceptual planning for the 56-Acre project area has progressed to the point where improvements can now be contemplated. Additional conceptual planning may be necessary in the future to refine programmatic elements and better position certain elements for grant funding. At this time, the City has requested, and Conservancy staff is recommending, that funding be awarded to design and permit improvements to the lakefront portion of 56-Acres, El Dorado Beach, as phase two planning of this long term improvement project.

The $800,000 planning grant to the City is to proceed to final design and permitting for the El Dorado Beach lakefront improvements portion of the 56-Acre project. The project will enhance and optimize public access to Lake Tahoe, including accessibility for those with limited mobility. The design is anticipated to include stabilizing the bluff and creating pocket seating areas, improved day-use facilities, redesigned pedestrian and bicycle pathways, a new food and beverage concessions building with restrooms, and space for non-motorized watercraft storage and rentals.”


The Assistant City Manager Rick Angelocci provides the following update on transportation-related matters. With the City’s focus on transportation issues inside and outside of the City limits, we are making progress to improve and upgrade the system to provide the highest quality service for the dollars available.

“As you know, we have managed to leverage State Prop 1B, FTA, 5311 and other funds to purchase 3 new busses for our transit system (Total cost ~ $900,000). I believe the last large bus purchased for the “Stage” system was in 2000. John Andoh has been working with several manufacturers to bring demonstration busses to the City for trial. The first busses that will be here are the Passport and the EZ Rider II from El Dorado National. John will be coordinating a run of the busses on the various City and Heavenly routes throughout the next two weeks. Additionally, it is planned that we will park the busses at both the South Y Transit Center and Stateline Transit Center sometime during this period so interested parties may “kick the tires” and check them out. I will forward to you an update on the schedule as we get closer. Further, I hope to have a date on the Gillig Low Floor, Orion VII, Bluebird ULF, NABI 40-LFW and Axcess next week. These buses are likely to only be here for one to two days.


According to the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center Executive Director Leanne Wagoner in her letter of April 1 to supporters of the organization, the “recently approved State budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year could cause domestic violence (prevention) agencies to close their doors. While South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center will remain open, the funding cuts will have profound effect on the many programs and services we provide for more than 2,000 survivors of violence every year. The Women’s Center is facing budget cuts starting on July 1, 2008 which could be anywhere from $30,000 to $65,000.”

Efforts need to be made by the community and organizations in the community to stress to State officials the importance of domestic violence prevention programs in our communities and the particular value and benefit of programs and services offered by the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center. The Governor and our fine State legislators should be contacted. A fund raising activity is underway at the present time to help support community programs and contributions are tax deductible. The Lake Tahoe Women’s Center is located at 2941 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150


Police Chief Terry Daniels and his staff are working on a report on anti-graffiti and anti-gang efforts, and this report will be ready for presentation to the City Council on May 6, 2008 rather than at the April 18, 2008 meeting as previously reported.


At a recent City Council meeting, the City Council took the suggestion of Mayor Pro Tempore Jerry Birdwell to extend and invitation to Scottsdale’s Mayor Mary Manross to talk about her City’s commitment to sustainability including “green” city initiatives. Efforts are being made to have her visit in June 2008.

Mayor Manross recently addressed her community in her annual presentation, and she made a number of important points that are transferable to other communities. I have summarized them as follows:

1. Focus on the downtown and the success sustained focus has had on the reinvigoration of your downtown.
2. Strength of the diversity of opinion on the City Council.
3. Planning for the next generation of Scottsdale residents not just the next election.
4. Creating a sustainable community with focus on economic, environmental and community initiatives.
5. Having an important vision for the City’s future and the commitment of City government and the community to achieve this vision.
6. Creating a visioning process for tourism that involves the entire community and results in benefits to all of the community.
7. The importance of undertaking and sustaining quality community planning efforts and the time needed to complete the planning and implement the vision if “we just stay focused.”

The City of South Lake Tahoe City Council is fostering and supporting a comprehensive planning effort to create a sustainable community that truly focuses on economic growth that benefits and serves all segments of the community, environmental protection and creating a “green” city, and supporting programs and activities that serves the interests of the 24,000 people living in South Lake Tahoe. The City’s development of a new and locally-grown General Plan, the Tahoe Valley Community Plan, the 56-Acre Project, a new redevelopment plan that brings financial resources to implement the preferred community vision, and numerous water quality improvement efforts are all examples that illustrate the City’s commitment to our shared present and future.

Lessons learned in other communities can help us to “plan our work, and work our plan” for our future and the future of those who come after us.

City Manager

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