Squaw Valley Submits Letter to Placer LAFCO regarding Concerns over the Olympic Valley Incorporation Proposal; Community
[Olympic Valley, Calif.] April 9, 2014 – As an interested party to the Olympic Valley Incorporation proposal (IOV proposal), Andy Wirth, on behalf of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC (Squaw Valley), submitted a letter to Placer County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) on April 7, 2014, urging the organization to carefully review the IOV proposal with special emphasis on the many economic issues and long-term liabilities that the new city would face.
“I sought out and received a great deal of input from many community members and leaders prior to drafting this letter to LAFCO,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC. “The letter represents our company's concerns and very much reflects just a few of the substantial and very real concerns from the community overall.”
The letter, which can be viewed in full here, outlines Squaw Valley’s concerns surrounding the financial viability of a new city in Olympic Valley. The letter also highlights the ramifications the IOV proposal could have on the broader North Lake Tahoe communities, which would no longer benefit from Squaw Valley’s TOT tax revenue if Olympic Valley were to be incorporated.
Though the letter to LAFCO was penned by Squaw Valley, many of the concerns about the IOV proposal had been communicated to Squaw Valley by a coalition of concerned residents of Olympic Valley. The concerns addressed in the letter to LAFCO resonate with residents throughout the Olympic Valley, Truckee, and North Lake Tahoe communities.
"We need to know how the IOV proposal will affect the entire North Tahoe region,” said Gary Davis, a Tahoe City business owner and Squaw Valley skier since 1969. “It seems to be divisive both in the greater North Lake Tahoe community and within Squaw Valley. It could be financially damaging to vital programs in North Tahoe and Truckee, and fractious splintering off of very tiny communities will not help us as a whole."
In addition to the issues regarding the diversion of critical tax dollars from North Lake Tahoe, community members have also raised concerns about the possibility of higher taxes, reduced levels of public services, and more government in the proposed city.
"There is a proven public process that has been working for 60 years,” said Ciro Mancuso, a longtime Olympic Valley homeowner. “I've worked with Placer County Planning Services for decades and they've always worked collaboratively, been open and transparent, and we just don't need another layer of government oversight."
Residents cite serious concerns about Olympic Valley’s ability to maintain financial stability if the incorporation efforts were to come to fruition. A city of this size would simply not have sustaining resources, making it financially overdependent on Squaw Valley. As a result, residents would be subjected to long term financial liabilities should there be a decline in business due to abnormal snow fall.
"I've looked at the proposed budget and question whether the IOV proponents have adequately stress tested their numbers, said Larry Tomlinson, a resident of Olympic Valley and retired corporate treasurer for Hewlett Packard. "What happens when the next financial meltdown comes and we can't fund the legacy costs which may threaten Olympic Valley with bankruptcy? And what about individual private property rights? Property owners who don't vote will be disenfranchised. It is essential that interested residents, IOV, and SVSH find a harmonious solution that is financially viable, attracts paying customers who love the Squaw Valley experience, and are assured that we have adequate infrastructure to support our community."
Legacy costs would force a significant percentage of TOT funds to be diverted to Placer County for past improvements, meaning that for several years, the proposed city may not have the revenue to sustain itself. As a result of the above, a city is generally forced to raise taxes or impose special assessments on its residents in order to make up year over year operating shortfalls.
There are approximately 7,500 homeowners (property owners, time share owners and/or part time residents) within the boundaries of the proposed incorporation, yet only 528 registered voters. This leaves almost 7,000 or 90 percent of owners not considered residents for voting purposes of the proposed city. Therefore, they will have no ability to vote on the IOV Proposal despite their vested interests in the future of Olympic Valley. The IOV proposal was advanced with 159 qualified signatures, which is just 29 percent of the 528 Squaw Valley residents eligible to vote- 71 percent didn't sign the petition.
Given the many unintended consequences of the proposed IOV proposal, Squaw Valley, along with the concerned residents of Olympic Valley and the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe community are united in their request that Placer LAFCO take extreme care in reviewing the incorporation proposal to ensure that no irreparable damage is done to these incredible towns and communities.
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