South Lake Tahoe, CA- The South Lake Tahoe City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place the South Lake Tahoe Fire Protection, Emergency Response, City Services Measure on the November 2020 ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would enact a 1-cent sales tax to allow the City to address currently unmet local fire and safety and public works needs while maintaining vital city services, using funding that cannot be taken by Sacramento.
“Even before the COVID19 pandemic, the City has had to grapple with local funding issues made worse by years of state takeaways,” said City Manager Joe Irvin. “As part of the City Council’s strategic goals set last year, we began outreaching the public to get their input on service priorities, and we are gratified that hundreds of South Lake Tahoe residents have provided input to date.”
“Reducing the threat of wildfires, maintaining fire protection and 911 emergency response, and retaining qualified police officers and firefighters, as well as basic services like maintaining snow removal, protecting lake water quality and treating stormwater runoff, repairing streets and roads, keeping public areas safe and clean, and supporting our local businesses were consistently at the top of the community’s list,” continued Irvin, “Unfortunately, with the impacts of COVID19 we are looking at a $6.5 million deficit – mandating future cuts to the very services our residents deserve and want most.”
To close past budget deficits, South Lake Tahoe has deferred significant public works improvements to streets and has not had the funds to update vital equipment that our firefighters and paramedics need. Currently, 60% of South Lake Tahoe roads are rated as “poor” or “very poor” by independent engineers, and firefighters do not currently have the updated life-saving equipment necessary to protect our community or themselves.
“We had a choice of reducing vital services even more in the wake of COVID19 to continue balancing our budget or give our voters the opportunity to consider approving locally-controlled funding to meet these needs,” Irvin said. “With Tuesday’s action, the Council has elected to let the community decide. We encourage all eligible South Lake Tahoe residents to vote in the upcoming election. As the State has recently changed the process of the all-mail ballot election, the City Clerk will be updating the community on any balloting changes and recent voter registration laws that expand the ability to participate.”
The measure placed on the ballot by the Council includes stringent accountability provisions, including mandatory independent financial audits and reports to the community.
For additional information, visit www.cityofslt.us