Expenses run high at North Tahoe PUD
The North Tahoe Public Utility District will face tough budgeting decisions in the next few years as the district’s expenses grow more quickly than revenue.
Larry Marple, the utility’s chief financial officer, told district board members last week that there are financial concerns because the “gap between revenue and expenses is diminishing.” He noted there was an 11 percent increase in operating expenses for the 2005-06 fiscal year.
Marple pointed to two significant events during the fiscal year that contributed to the district’s expenses, including the July 2005 sewage spill and the January 2006 “storm event” that cost the district $74,093. The sewage spill cost the district $259,158, but a recent settlement paid $298,160 for a piece of equipment for the district.
The settlement was approved by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board in October and settled a lawsuit filed by the district against the homeowners and contractor involved in the sewage spill. Although the district does not receive cash for the settlement, it is included as revenue since the equipment most likely would have been bought by the district.
The district’s three main functions ” sewer, water and recreation ” are also costing more than in previous years, according to Marple. The board will have to make tough decisions in the next few years regarding the three services.
Marple also said park expenses are exceeding the revenue the district takes in. The North Tahoe Community Conference Center, which has been running a deficit since 2004, is also costing the district.
The board recently approved the installation of parking gates at the Kings Beach State Recreation Area to enforce parking there, where expenses are also exceeding revenue. The district receives no funding assistance to maintain the state-owned park and the board has grappled with that contract, according to district General Manager Steve Rogers.
“The bigger policy question is do we want to manage Kings Beach State Recreation Area,” Rogers said. “The community has encouraged local management of it. Local economy is impacted by that state park … Improving maintenance does come at a cost. If the state leases the property to someone else, we lose control over that local asset.”
Board member Jeff Lanini suggested holding a public hearing to ask the community if it wants the district’s parks maintained at a high level.
“How many extra hours are spent cleaning up after crafts fairs, fireworks, etc.,” Lanini asked. “Does the public want these events? The public complained about dirty beaches and the maintenance increased. Are people happy with the effort? I will do what the public wants.”
Lanini also said the cost of labor has gone up and that the district should consider contracting labor for bigger projects.
The board agreed that it will look at other ways to make money and will also discuss new policies in the future.