While a redevelopment agency approved to help fund a Stateline event center will disappear as of Jan. 1, its $1.3 million a year ghost will continue to haunt Douglas County.
Voters decided to eliminate the district after a petition placed an initiative on the ballot.
Slightly a week after the petition was certified, county commissioners approved a contract with the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority providing $34.25 million to build the center.
At their Dec. 17 meeting, county commissioners were told that bonds have been sold as a result of the action and preliminary construction has begun.
“From a legal standpoint, legislative action generally cannot impair a pre-existing contractual obligation,” Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadlé said. “But at the same time, no other redevelopment area and no tax increment can be collected beyond what’s required.”
One of redevelopment’s opponents, Commissioner Dave Nelson chastised the board’s majority for agreeing to make the payments with an impending ballot question.
“I look at this as a real mess,” he said. “First the referendum is certified and comes before the board. You don’t want to dissolve the RDA, but you put this on the ballot to make a decision and then your next step is to obligate the county for this $34.25 million in very bad faith. The three of you should look at that and see if you did the right thing.”
Commissioner Wes Rice said he disagreed.
“We did exactly the right thing and I will never apologize for that vote,” he said.
“Nor I,” Commissioner Barry Penzel said.
Tahoe Douglas Visitor Authority Executive Director Carol Chaplin said preliminary waterline work uncovered an old bank foundation on the property.
She said she expects work to start next season on May 1 and will go through the end of 2022.
“This is certainly a transformative event for the market,” proponent Lew Feldman said. “The level of interest received has been overwhelming.”