Squaw Valley contributions surpass $250K to challenge town | SierraSun.com

Squaw Valley contributions surpass $250K to challenge town

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com
The Squaw Valley village proposal at build-out can be seen, along with resort ski lifts and runs, all of which are lit, in this model that can be viewed by the public at Base Camp, located next to Wanderlust Yoga Studio on First Street in the village.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

IF YOU GO

What: Placer Local Agency Formation Commission special hearing

When: 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 10

Where: Northstar Community Services District Highlands Fire Station No. 32, 9100 Highlands View Road, Northstar

Topics: Olympic Valley Incorporation proposal, presentation of the Martis West Parcel project

Online: Visit www.placer.ca.gov/departments/lafco" target="_blank">Bold">www.placer.ca.gov/departments/lafco , and click on “Agenda Package” next to the Sept. 10 date under “Tentative Hearing Schedule — Fiscal Year 2014/15”

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Squaw Valley Ski Holdings has spent more than a quarter-million dollars to help fund challenges to the Incorporate Olympic Valley movement.

The company that owns Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts contributed $100,000, along with $22,843.18 in non-monetary contributions, between June 1 and July 31, bringing its total amount of funding to Save Olympic Valley this calendar year to $253,099.76, according to Fair Political Practices Commission forms filed with Placer County Elections.

Meanwhile, Save Olympic Valley, a coalition of valley residents, business owners and property owners, has spent $297,890.96 between Jan. 1 and July 31 ­— with $71,406.19 in unpaid bills, according to filings.

SOV expenditures include professional services (legal, accounting), campaign consultants, campaign literature and mailings, and advertisements in various print media.

“Just like anyone else participating in this process, we have an obligation to be transparent and report the funds spent communicating our concerns about the incorporation proposal with the public…” said SOV treasurer Sean Welch, a partner with San Rafael, Calif.-based Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni LLP. “This includes newspaper ads, time spent talking to … reporters and (at) meetings to get our message out.”

Ads run by SOV have questioned the fiscal viability of the proposed town of Olympic Valley, with one ad starting: “… it appears that the IOV proponents’ draft budgets and fiscal scenarios are far-fetched and that these oversights could lead to serious financial shortfalls or even bankruptcy as was seen in Mammoth Lakes.”

NEW CONTRACT FOR FINANCIAL STUDY?

A fiscal study commissioned by Incorporate Olympic Valley nearly a year ago, however, found the town would be financially viable.

“Until the comprehensive fiscal analysis and revenue neutrality process is done, to say it’s not viable and to throw $250,000 to say that it’s not viable is crazy,” said Tom Day, an IOV board member.

At a June 11 Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission meeting, Folsom-based Citygate Associates was selected to prepare a comprehensive financial analysis, under a contract not to exceed $51,750.

On Friday, LAFCO received a check from IOV for the entire amount of the analysis, said Kristina Berry, executive officer of Placer County LAFCO office.

However, as of Tuesday morning, LAFCO “more than likely” will not use Citygate Associates, Berry said.

When asked why, she said she will disclose that information during a special LAFCO hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Northstar.

LAFCO is working on selecting a new consultant, Berry said. A new consultant means a new contract would have to be bid.

OTHER MONEY

To date, IOV has raised just under $100,000 through fundraising and a crowdfunding campaign, Day said.

Aside from its payment for the fiscal analysis contract, the grassroots group made a 25,000 deposit last December to LAFCO to cover staff time and materials.

An unknown expense for IOV will be the cost of an environmental analysis, which will depend on depth of study.

Berry said her office is working on a contract with Sacramento-based Raney Planning and Management to be an on-call environmental consultant.

Raney would help determine the extent of environmental study needed for incorporation, she said. If a full Environmental Impact Report is needed, “more than likely” LAFCO will hire a separate consultant to do the analysis, Berry said.

‘HAVING A STRONGER VOICE’

If LAFCO approves incorporation based on environmental and fiscal findings, an election among Olympic Valley registered voters would follow, in which a simple majority — more than 50 percent — must vote in favor for it to become a town.

Squaw’s funding disclosures come amid the resort’s still-in-the-works proposed redevelopment of the resort’s village to include 1,493 bedrooms, 850 lodging units and the 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp recreation facility.

“The simple fact is that the IOV effort is aimed at impeding plans to revitalize Squaw Valley to premier status,” Welch said.

Day, however, said that’s a myth.

“Incorporation is not about anti-development, it’s about having a stronger voice in the future of the community,” he said. “… At the end of the day, the outcome isn’t as important as who makes the decision of the outcome.”

In related news, the California Fair Political Practices Commission is still investigating IOV after a claim was filed in early May, citing the group failed to file a statement of organization, file some monthly campaign statements and include disclaimers on campaign advertisements to the commission, FPPC communications director Jay Wierenga said Tuesday.