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Board Hears Report on County Revenue, Expenditures at Tahoe

April 28, 2015

Where the county money comes from in the Tahoe area and where it goes was the topic of a presentation to the Board of Supervisors at their Monday meeting in Kings Beach. In the first presentation of its kind to the board, Deputy County Executive Officer Andy Heath told the supervisors about the complicated revenue stream and expenditures from funds collected in the eastern end of the county. 

The Tahoe budget analysis was compiled by staff to get an accurate picture of how much money is collected in the eastern end of the county and how much is spent there. The analysis looked at fiscal year 2013-2014 for a snapshot in time, but the actual results will vary from year to year. The geographic footprint used is the unincorporated areas east and southeast of Interstate 80 and Hampshire Rocks Road. Each county department provided information on their services and programs within this area. This included direct and indirect costs such as staff, contracts, materials, supplies and equipment. The departments also provided information on revenues they collected.  

The revenue generated in this part of the county was then compared with the actual costs of delivering services to the area. These funds are typically not intended to be wholly distributed to specific collection or geographic areas, but rather are intended to support the delivery of programs and services throughout the county.  

“As long as I've been in the position of supervisor, there has been so much debate about the Tahoe area being a 'cash cow,' ” said Fifth District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, whose district includes the eastern end of the county.  “I've been asking for about seven years to have this analysis done, and am so glad to see it.” 

In this eastern end footprint, there are 88 different tax rate areas. The combination of property tax, transient occupancy tax (TOT) from hotel stays, sales tax, and money paid for fees and services, grants, and other similar revenue sources brought in about $61.5 million last year. 

On the expenditure side, there are some of the more commonly known expenses for the Sheriff’s Office, medical clinics, and Public Works, which maintains roads and plows snow, among other things. Additionally, the county provides many services that the public may not realize, such as child protective services, animal services, libraries, parks and trails, tourism development, economic development, permits, code enforcement, the TART Bus system, social services, probation, environmental restoration, and more. Approximately 155 county employees are assigned to and provide services directly to the Lake Tahoe area. The majority of these employees provide services from the Community Development Resource Agency, Health and Human Services, Public Works and the Sheriff’s Office. Last year, the cost of these employees and the services they provided totaled almost $58 million. 

“This analysis doesn’t take into consideration the countywide services that benefit the Tahoe area, such as the Assessor, Elections, Clerk-Recorder and museums,” Heath said. “Those services and staff may not work directly in or for Tahoe, but benefit the area, nonetheless. And with that, we pretty much break-even.” 

The difference between revenue and expenditures in Tahoe in 2013-2014 was approximately $3.2 million. That number will vary from year to year. A good year for tourism will increase the TOT total but in an off year, the total will drop. With low snowfall totals this winter, Public Works didn’t have a lot of snow plowing to do. However, three years ago, snow removal required an additional $2.5 million to keep the roads clear. So each year will be different.

The county developed a video to help communicate this complex analysis to the public. It will be available for viewing soon on the county website.

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