Guest Column: IVGID confusion is not just about Ordinance 7
July 23, 2014
I've attended all of IVGID's open workshops on Ordinance 7 and listened to comments that demonstrate how many local property owners are confused about what IVIGD is. One gentleman said it's like a homeowner's association. Another inquired who had access to our facilities, apparently not realizing that, except for the beaches, all of them are open to the public.
Few seem to understand that IVGID is a public agency (not "quasi-public," as many have been led to believe). They bristle at the notion that the beaches are "public with restrictions" (IVGID's term, not mine), because they still believe the beaches are really under private ownership.
Because IVGID operates so unlike any other public agency, people are shocked to learn that a GID is indeed a public agency with only those powers given it by the County. What other government agency operates bars and restaurants? What other government agency gives its employees discounted or free use of the facilities for which the public is required to pay a fee?
What other public agency charges owners an annual fee of hundreds of dollars (not to be confused with property tax) to provide public facilities that are available to everyone? What other public agency charges residents who are not owners (and not given rec passes by their landlords) more than non-resident property owners for public recreation?
The term "exclusivity" came up frequently. I understand the desire to have facilities that have limited access, but that objective is contrary to the role of a public agency. This is another example of the total confusion surrounding IVGID's identity and purpose. If property owners truly desire exclusivity, then they need to look for ways to transfer some of IVGID's assets to private ownership and/or control.
Making user fees so high that the majority of residents don't use the facilities is not an acceptable practice for an agency created to provide public recreation. IVGID's current system of limiting access to the beaches isn't working either, as evidenced by the overcrowding, not just during the Red, White and Tahoe Blue, but pretty much the entire summer.
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We probably need to rethink who can access the beaches as guests. With the proliferation of vacation rentals, perhaps we need to put a daily maximum per dwelling unit/rec fee property.
Another question raised was whether property owners would be given an opportunity to vote on the Diamond Peak mast plan. This person could hardly believe that, unlike a homeowner's association, IVGID's board could approve borrowing of millions of dollars without going to a vote of those liable for the debt.
Because IVGID considers the rec and beach fees as "revenue," it can show it has "income" to cover the costs of these bonds. Even if there were a vote, the majority of property owners are not qualified to vote here because their principal residence is elsewhere.
I do appreciate our new general manager's efforts to educate the public on Ordinance 7 and give us the opportunity to discuss the subject in an open and non-threatening atmosphere.
I sincerely hope the same type of in-depth public discussions will take place on topics such as the Diamond Peak Master Plan, the Waste Management contract changes and any other major decisions that affect the community.
Hopefully these forums will be well attended and will have broad representation, not just by a few special interest groups. After hearing the comments and questions posed at the Ordinance 7 meetings, I think it would serve the community well to have several forums educating the public and answering questions on the role of a GID.
Although IVGID has limited powers, its decisions will have great impact on the future of Incline Village and Crystal Bay. Even if you can't vote here, your opinions need to be heard. But first, you need to understand what IVGID is.
Judith Miller is an Incline Village resident.
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