El Dorado County ready for Bond S voters

Area voters are "on a fast track" to determining if taxes will be raised to pay for the construction of recreational facilities and improvements at Lake Tahoe's South Shore.

Bond Measure S, a $6.5 million bond measure that calls for $5.3 million in recreational improvements and maintenance funds, will go before the area's 13,000 registered voters in a Sept. 19 special election.

As such, it will be the only measure on the ballot.

A special election, as opposed to squeezing it on the already scheduled November ballot, will bring a more accurate reflection of community sentiment on the proposal, said John Upton, author of the bond measure.

"If people go to the ballot box for this election, I know this is their primary and only reason they are there," he said. "How much attention are you going to be able to get if there's already 15 state propositions on the ballot?"

The cost estimate of a special election is about $30,000, according to Michele MacIntyre, El Dorado County's registrar of voters.

"It's not that much of a cost difference between a special election and a regularly scheduled election," MacIntyre said. "And often times going with an already scheduled election can be more expensive because you create more ballot types. There are all kinds of variables."

Upton said the election will be paid for by El Dorado County, which has already set aside the funds in its budget.

With the proposal drawn, efforts will move from planning to campaigning.

More than $60,000 in campaign funding has come from businesses and individuals on both sides of the state line. About $17,000 of that was used to compile data from a phone survey to determine area recreational needs, which are reflected in the bond measure. Upton, who has not been paid for his involvement in the project, said the remaining dollars will be spent on voter education tactics - mailings and phone calls.

"This is the first workable alternative that the community has had in 25 years," Upton said. "This is a perishable opportunity and we need to do it now or maybe lose it forever."

If passed, the measure will pay for the construction of a $3.8 million ice rink facility on Rufus Allen Boulevard, the installation of four playing fields near the Lake Tahoe Community College for $1.3 million and $200,000 in upgrades for the Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District. The measure also allows for a total of $225,000 in annual maintenance funding - $50,000 for the Tahoe Paradise Park, $50,000 for the ball fields and $125,000 for up to 25 miles of bike trail proposed to be built by the California Tahoe Conservancy.

"We're on a fast track to get this information to the public," said Hal Cole, the city of South Lake Tahoe representative to the Joint Powers Authority that approved the call for election. "This is our one shot."


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