Weissinger invites Valley people to public meeting on room tax
In what may well have been his first official act as a member of the Tahoe-Douglas Visitor’s Author-ity, Commissioner Steve Weissinger invites Valley residents to show up for an Oct. 1 workshop Old Gym Playhouse next to Carson Valley Middle School to discuss what will be done with the decreased room tax funds.
“I’ve never been one to advocate taxes,” said Weissinger. “But the bottom line is we’ll either have to have cuts in service or new taxes.”
Weissinger was appointed to the newly-created TDVA Thursday after a unanimous vote by the county commissioners at Thursday’s meeting.
Weissinger said he thinks the job of the new entity should be to attempt to fill all the rooms in the casino core on non-weekend evenings. He said all the rooms are always sold out on Friday and Saturday nights, but that rental s decrease during the work week.
Weissinger said he thought he was a good representative for the authority as he works at Raley’s in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. and is in the area four or five nights a week.
He said the TOT will be increased to 10 percent for each rented room as of Oct. 1, with the extra 1 percent going to a TDVA fund designed to jump start the new entity.
Weissinger said that the fund should accumulate about $600,000 per year, and as it grows, he said projects will be identified and funded by the authority.
“You might as well get the biggest bang for your buck,” said Weissinger, when asked if the money will be saved until enough accumulates to tackle bigger projects or used in more of a patchwork capacity for smaller projects. “Even if the fund accumulates $50,000 per month, that can’t do a lot for the four properties.”
Weissinger said he expects to report to the county commissioners at least quarterly on the progress of the authority and its expenditures. He said his role will be to hold the big casinos accountable and responsible for how the money is spent.
“We’ll look at how the LTVA spends money and how both chambers spend money,” said Weissinger. “This will be scrutinized very closely.
“As a member of the board of commissioners, I represent Douglas County. I want to keep the lines of communication open.”
The authority was created after the Tahoe Citizen’s Committee, a political action group of residents of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, lobbied the state Legislature during this year’s session in an attempt to create a Tahoe County. The new county would have included parts of Douglas and Washoe counties and rural parts of Carson City had the Legislature approved the proposal of TCC chair Michael Jabara and lobbiest Harvey Whittemore.
The Legislature passed Assembly Bill 616 during the last hours of the legislative session in response to concerns raised by the TCC that a large portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax or room tax was collected from the Stateline casino core while only a small amount went to the Lake.
The new law has drawn criticism from county commissioners as well as some Valley residents as they say it will have an impact on the level of services offered by Valley parks, libraries and the senior center which have used the TOT funds in the past.
The Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance has nominated Kevin Servatius, senior vice president and general manager of Harveys; David Attaway, senior vice president and general manager of Caesars; Skip Sayre, director of marketing for Harrah’s; and Sandra Hoy, director of marketing for the Horizon to serve along with Weissinger.