Board Updated on Expenditures and Revenue in Eastern Placer County
As the number of permanent residents in eastern Placer County has declined in recent years, second home ownership and tourism is on the rise. That was one of the key points shared with the Placer County Board of Supervisors last week in a presentation on services, programs, and projects delivered to citizens in eastern Placer County.
The presentation, provided by Deputy Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Merchant, included population, visitor, employee and key revenue trends as well as data on permits issued, transit service growth and services provided to the community, to name a few. Economic development and projects being implemented were also highlighted. All are key to planning for the needs of Placer’s eastern county communities.
Revenue generated in eastern Placer County looks very healthy thanks to North Lake Tahoe area property taxes, which saw a 9 percent increase since last fiscal year, in part attributable to growth in the number of second homes in the region. The North Lake Tahoe transient occupancy tax revenue has also increased, as tourism to the North Lake Tahoe region is estimated to have grown from 822,000 visitors in 2002, skyrocketing to 1,037,000 visitors in 2012. TOT revenue was over $12 million (fiscal year 2014-2015), 60 percent of which goes back into the community to provide marketing services, increased transit services and visitor-serving capital projects such as bike trails and beach maintenance. Since 1996 over $32 million in TOT funding has leveraged $235 million in private, local, state and federal funding sources to enable Placer County to complete nearly 100 Tahoe area projects such as the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project, Tahoe City Transit Center, Commons Beach Restoration and bike trail expansion and improvement.
Other key presentation highlights focused on the county increasing services to help meet the community’s changing needs.
One area of concern is the upward trend of people applying to the CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) program which helps families purchase healthy and nutritious food at grocery stores and farmers markets. The number of applications more than doubled over a five-year period in eastern Placer County with 2,020 applications in 2010 growing to 4,430 applications in 2015. County staff expect the number of applications to grow in the current fiscal year.
“The increase in permanent residents needing social services is very concerning," said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. "We need to understand how to address this in eastern Placer County and understand how it relates to a lack of affordable housing and economic opportunities."
Placer’s partnership with the Town of Truckee’s animal shelter has been a great success, Merchant reported. In its first six months, Tahoe region field patrol time has increased 33 percent, 28 percent fewer citations were issued, owners of 32 animals saved $300 each using the new spay and neuter program, two animals were reunited with their owners under the “free ride home” program and over $75,000 in taxpayer costs have been saved.
The Tahoe Area Regional Transit system continues to be a shining success story with significant growth over the last 10 years, with a fleet of 17 buses providing an annual ridership of 322,000 people, at $4.7 million in operating costs.
The Tahoe Community Development Resource Agency in Tahoe City is buzzing with activity as it finds new ways to streamline the way it serves the community’s needs. One example of this is the “Over the Counter Tuesdays” program, when smaller projects can receive a permit in one day, and North Tahoe Fire District personnel are available at CDRA’s front counter to help process permits, reducing the lengthy back-and-forth permit process some have come to know. By the numbers, CDRA staff are providing outstanding customer service, issuing an expected 1,300 building permits and performing 32,000 building inspections.
"I am amazed how well CDRA staff is serving the community with their available resources," said Montgomery. "It is unbelievable how much work they accomplish with relatively few employees, which is true of all of the county's eastern Placer County departments."