Placer turns to public for spending ideas | SierraSun.com

Placer turns to public for spending ideas

Kelsie Longerbeam
klongerbeam@sierrasun.com

North Lake Tahoe can expect to see an influx of capital improvement spending down the line, but Placer County officials wanted the public to weigh in with their thoughts before allocating money for the projects.

As a result, the Placer County Board of Supervisors and their partners at the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association met with the community on Tuesday, Nov. 2, in Kings Beach to discuss how to spend revenue collected from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) — a tax collected on occupancy of overnight lodging within the county.

The board met previously on Monday, Oct. 23 in Kings Beach to discuss and approve allocation of TOT revenue for local projects. At the meeting, a motion carried to invest 100 percent of the lodging taxes generated in North Lake Tahoe to support tourism and implementation of the county's 2015 Tourism Master Plan for the region. The master plan prioritizes capital project development, transportation services, and destination marketing and visitor services.

The plan was presented in four categories, then those individual categories were divided into tier one and tier two priority projects. The categories presented were visitor activities and facilities, visitor support services, marketing and sales, and transportation.

Locals at the Nov. 2. meeting were encouraged to observe these categories, ask any questions, and then vote on paper what Tourism Master Plan category they thought to be of the highest priority, and then submit it to a comments box.

"My top two choices are first marketing and sales because I feel like increased business and traveling and increased visitor stay, and increased visitor spending, it all brings in money and will help promote the brand of Tahoe," said Colleen Chapman, a resident of Truckee. "Then number two is transportation, because then you have to help move them around. I think that's a great starting point."

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Local residents were asked their opinions of priority categories because the $18 million in lodgin tax revenue is not enough to cover all costs of the entire master plan.

"The plan in total has a funding gap identified of $100 million as of 2015, just in priority tier one projects" said Cindy Gustafson, CEO and executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. "But we can do it, we can find ways to get there … don't get overwhelmed."

Some of the funding options discussed were to increase the current TOT, increase sales tax, add a voluntary real estate transfer tax, or ask for federal, state, or local grants. Residents were also asked to brainstorm other methods, and then submit their ideas to the comment's box.

A new proposed committee is also being planned to recommend capital projects to the board of supervisors, to develop a marketing plan with revised performance indicators, and to review funding strategies with the community, including the transient occupancy tax and sales tax measures. Locals were specifically asked about their preferred structure of this committee, and again asked to place this in the comment's box.

County officials and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association will then look over and review all of the questions, comments and concerns regarding the Tourism Master plan, and then post them online with their responses.

"We have so many opportunities to invest in eastern Placer County, and we're in a position to start doing even more," said Erin Casey, senior management analyst for North Lake Tahoe, in a statement. "This is a great chance for everyone to share their input on what matters most to them."

Kelsie Longerbeam is the news, business and environment reporter for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. She can be contacted at klongerbeam@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram @kelsielongerbm

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