Douglas funds most of $600,000 microtransit request

LakeLink is an on-demand shuttle service designed to reduce the number of people driving between Stateline and South Lake Tahoe.

LakeLink is an on-demand shuttle service designed to reduce the number of people driving between Stateline and South Lake Tahoe.

An on-demand shuttle service designed to help reduce the impact of an events center at Stateline received a $520,000 pledge from Douglas County commissioners by a 4-1 vote on Thursday.

Douglas County agreed up to one half percent of the Tahoe Occupancy Tax to fund the microtransit required by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Under state law, a percent of transient occupancy tax collected at Lake Tahoe must be spent there. The current balance in the Tahoe Douglas Transportation district is $3 million.

Commissioners approved a resolution April 16, 2020, to participate in an interlocal agreement to contribute up to a half-percent of the tax on to operate the service when they approved the bonds to construct the Tahoe Blue Center. That amounts to $600,000 a year.

The center is the largest single construction project in Douglas County is dried in as workers complete the final touches in time for its July opening.

South Shore Transportation Management Association Executive Director Raymond Suarez said the system has raised $920,000 from 21 other jurisdictions and has carried 70,843 people since it started July 15, 2022.

While Suarez said there are plans to expand the service, the service as of this month was that it will need $1.44 million annually.

He said they are down to $60,000 for February and will require the money to keep going through the rest of the year.

Doing the math, Commissioner Danny Tarkanian proposed reducing the $600,000 commitment by $80,000 on condition that Douglas will discuss continued funding through the budget process.

In a 180-degree change from former Commissioner John Engels’ opposition to funding any aspect of the center, Commissioner Sharla Hales sought to provide the entire requested amount, but acknowledged she wouldn’t have the votes.

“I want to get us on a different track,” she said. “I don’t want to feel like Douglas is adversarial to this microtransit effort. We really have interests that align.”

Commissioner Walt Nowosad was the lone vote against the issue, saying he felt that the county was wasting money on the project.

Commissioners will get to discuss the issue again when the interlocal agreement comes before them.

Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadlé said he would get it prepared as quickly as possible. The earliest it could be heard would be March 2.


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