IVGID GM’s Corner: Responding to IVGID criticisms (opinion)
It is over in twelve days! What seems like the longest election in our lives will finally be over.
While most of the attention has focused on the Presidential race, there has been a bit of dialogue in town about our IVGID Board of Trustees contest.
After nearly 38 years in public service, and twenty electoral cycles, I’ve come to accept the rhetoric that goes with each campaign. I’d like to say that I’m immune to the criticism, but being a human being, that isn’t possible. Also, a little criticism isn’t a bad thing anyway.
There are always things we can do better and there are always great new ideas that come out of the electoral process.
For example, there was a lot of discussion in the 2014 campaign about transparency. Consequently, communications/transparency was added as a guiding principle of our IVGID Strategic Plan when it was adopted by the Board of Trustees last year. In addition, we hired a Communications Coordinator and we’ve greatly increased our communications with the public and placed a lot more information on our website.
Conversely, there is always campaign rhetoric that many of us can find frustrating and misleading.
For example, there is this belief that we’ve greatly increased our staff and staff compensation over the past couple of years.
Yes, our labor costs have increased the past few years. However, most of the cost is due to increased activity at our venues and increased service levels that have been requested by the public and approved by the Board of Trustees.
More specifically, we’ve added more food and beverage staff because more of you are coming to the Chateau Grille for lunch, more of you are having functions at the Aspen Grove, and more of you are enjoying the view and dining at Snowflake Lodge.
At our beaches, by popular demand, we’ve increased the number of days that we operate the gates. Also by popular demand, we’ve kept the Burnt Cedar pool open post-Labor Day through early October.
We have also modestly increased wages, due to the increase in the minimum wage, and we have given our full-time employees cost of living increases the past few years — but the vast majority of the labor cost increases are due to increasing demands.
We’ve also had folks criticize the compensation level for our management personnel. I would welcome all of you to access the TransparentNevada.com website. If you compare our compensation with any other Public District around Lake Tahoe, you will see that a far smaller percentage of our employees are highly compensated than any other similar District.
And with increased activity at these venues, it isn’t just labor and operating costs that go up. Revenues increase as well, as does our bottom line. If you looked at just expenses, you would notice that we spent over $800,000 more than we had originally budgeted at Diamond Peak. However, we also exceeded our originally budgeted revenue by $3.7 million.
The previous year was a different story. We were $444,000 below budget for expenditures at Diamond Peak. Much of the reduced cost was due to the lack of snow, which meant we operated fewer days than we budgeted. The lack of snow also translated into $1.3 million less than the revenue we had budgeted.
I mention that because I’ve also heard criticism that we didn’t meet our budget in 2014-2015. All of our venues are impacted by weather and the economy. Our budget is a planning and management tool, not a crystal ball. Our goal is to make sure that we manage our venue responsibly within the circumstances that we encounter each year. We also attempt to budget in a manner that ensures stable fiscal health over the long run.
So while we may see variations in our venue bottom line each year, if you average our budgets over a five-year-period, we are always making sure that we have a positive bottom line. And if you take a look at our annual audit, you will see that our net assets increase each year and that our cash position has an overall upward trend, all the while decreasing our long term debt.
Finally, we’ve received criticism about how we report our finances.
It is important to note that we have a specific format required by the State of Nevada when it comes to reporting our budget on their forms. For our annual reconciliation of expenditures, our audit has a different format. In addition, our Trustees often ask for information to be provided in a format that is more detailed than what is provided by the State or the Audit.
We also provide weekly reports of checks, monthly financials and three years of budget down to the object level on our website. There is no one simple format, but we try to provide as much information as possible, to cover the multiple needs of a variety of users. In any case, our goal is to make our finances as clear and comprehensive as possible.
“GM’s Corner” is a recurring column from Incline Village General Improvement Distinct General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who will discuss issues and offer updates regarding various district matters. He may be reached for comment at email@example.com.