Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of FAQs received from members. Information will be updated as the project progresses. For the FAQ created from the September 8, 2021 special board workshop, click here.
Updated March 21, 2023
After the board voted to proceed into design and construction with Option D, a lodge size of approximately 24,490 square feet with a total cost of $23,419,661, staff submitted an application to the Town of Truckee Planning Department. This application was deemed complete on Aug. 12, 2022, and staff are awaiting the environmental determination and Planning Commission hearing date. Once those decisions have been made, the timeline will become more clear. The project is currently out to bid.
As the application process continues, staff will continue to work directly with the pre-construction contractor and design team to look for cost-saving measures. This is sometimes referred to as value engineering – looking at ways to reduce costs that don’t impact the member experience or operations. This is a typical process for projects of this size and scope.
Once staff have an idea of when the project gets to the Planning Commission for review, the schedule should start becoming clearer.
Why does Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort need a new lodge?
The current lodge was originally built in 1971 to be the Dart Corporation real estate sales office and was later converted to a ski lodge. At 50 years old, the lodge has reached the end of its useful life, unfavorably impacting operational demand, member/guest experience and Tahoe Donner’s vision. Tahoe Donner Association has a fiduciary responsibility to keep its amenities updated, current and functional.
Please review additional questions on this page that further discuss the decision to rebuild versus remodel the current building.
What is the current state of the project? And what did the board of directors decide on?
After the board voted to proceed into design and construction with Option D, a lodge size of approximately 24,490 square feet with a total cost of $23,419,661, staff submitted an application to the Town of Truckee Planning Department. This application was deemed complete on Aug. 12, 2022, and The Town is currently reviewing the proposal.
Why did the board decide to rebuild vs. remodel?
In December 2019 at an open board meeting after extensive analysis, the board voted to rebuild, not remodel. Remodeling the existing lodge was seriously considered and researched. One of the primary challenges of rebuilding the current ski lodge is its unique snowflake design. It would require significant expense to attempt to remodel the building to meet today’s building codes, ADA standards and usage requirements. Additionally, the roof is poorly designed, causing snow to shed on the deck and entrances. This requires extensive snow removal during storm cycles and delays in operations, both being a danger to staff.
What work has been done to date?
Over the past several years, the General Plan Committee, Task Force, staff and several consultants have assisted to work through the Capital Projects process. View some of the key milestones.
Are there homeowners involved in this project?
Yes! The General Plan Committee, Downhill Ski Resort Task Force and board of directors are made up of homeowners. In addition to these working groups, PROS Consulting completed a member survey and focus groups to gather additional member feedback regarding the Downhill Ski Resort Lodge Replacement Project. Ongoing communication, education and outreach will continue to be a key part of the project. Member feedback and direction were critical in the decision-making process to select the 24,490 square-foot building.
We will continue to provide updates on the project via emails, board meetings, updates on the downhill ski lodge webpages, member task force meetings and information in Tahoe Donner News.
Members are encouraged to provide their feedback here.
What has the member outreach component of the project been?
As of February 2022, the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors and management have embarked on extensive two-way member outreach to address the ski lodge and learn what the members and users need and want in the future lodge. Member outreach includes focus groups, member surveys and a questionnaire as well as regular updates on the feedback we are receiving and statuses as progress continues. A survey report was completed in December 2020 and published in the January 2021 issue of Tahoe Donner News.
How will members be kept informed of the progress?
The Downhill Ski Resort Lodge Replacement Project Page is your one-stop shop for updated reports and information regarding this project. Please check back often, as new information will be uploaded as it becomes available.
Staff will continue to update the membership via emails, discussion groups and Tahoe Donner News articles.
What are the next steps
An application was submitted to the Town of Truckee Planning Department on Aug. 12, 2022, and the Town is currently reviewing the submitted design proposal for the ski lodge. As of February 2023, the Town’s environmental consultant has not completed the report, however once that step is complete we anticipate next steps and timeline to become more clear. Additional next steps include:
- Plan check submittal/building permit review
- Sub-contractor bid set/long lead items in
- 100% construction document and bidding phase/mobilization
- Construction begins
Will the ski hill close during construction?
Throughout the construction process, the Downhill Ski Area will remain open. The day-to-day operations may feel similar to the 2020/21 COVID-19 ski year in food, beverage and recreation opportunities.
Through temporary popup structures, familiar services will remain open such as rentals, lessons, food and beverage options and more.
What does the current ski lodge look like?
The current lodge, dating back to Tahoe Donner’s earliest days, was originally used as a sales office. It has served us well over the past 50 years, but it is at the end of its useful life with a myriad of service, access and functional issues. To take a virtual tour of the current ski lodge, click here. To see how overcrowding is an issue at the current ski lodge based on a video recorded on Monday, December 23, 2019, which was a 646-skier-visit day, click here.
What will the size of the new ski lodge be?
After review of size design scenarios, the board selected Option D:
By Motion, proceed into design and construction with Option D, a lodge size of approximately 24,490 square feet with a total cost not to exceed approximately $23,419,661.
Below is a representation of project opportunities and needs based on building scenarios.
The size of the new ski lodge has not been determined. Management and the board of directors are working together with PROS Consulting to complete member outreach as well as gathering and consolidating data to help determine key decisions as potential off-season uses, size and cost.
The size of the new ski lodge has not yet been determined. Management and the board of directors are working together with Bull Stockwell Allen (BSA) to determine the appropriate size and cost.
What have industry experts shown as the appropriate sized lodge?
A variety of consultants have provided recommendations based on industry best practices and our current operational needs.
The 2018 report from Ecosign suggested several sizing options, including:
- 25,500 square feet with an exterior ski school yurt (including exterior space, total size of 26,800 square feet)
- 27,154 square feet
- 25,500 square feet
- 27,000 square feet
- Ecosign recommendation – 25,603 square feet with no interior ski school space (equivalent to BSA’s proposal of 26,903 square feet with equivalent kids space)
In 2020, a second firm (Ward-Young) conducted a high-level master planning study that provided updated information from the Ecosign report. Their professional sizing recommendation based on specific Tahoe Donner programming analyses included:
- 35,750 square feet
- 30,780 square feet
- Staff recommendation – 26,263 square feet with reduced service and programming
Most recently, a third firm (Bull Stockwell Allen) gathered these previous reports and additional data to move the programming analyses into an actual design layout, with recommendations including:
- 24,908 square feet with reduced programming
- BSA recommendation – 27,910 square feet with strict staff guidelines to keep the size down
Is the proposed ski lodge the appropriate size for our community?
In January 2022, a member group shared that any replacement ski lodge at Tahoe Donner should be designed for the ski area’s current capacity. They shared, “What we do have is a common understanding of what an ideal day is at Tahoe Donner and what should be our design day. The lodge should be sized for a 900 skier day.” The group also shared, “When applying the industry standard for capacity planning for 900 guests in the range of 17-20 sq/ft per skier, it would put our designed lodge at approximately 18,000 sq/ft.”
It is important to note that the range of 17-20 square feet per skier is from a 2018 Ecosign report, which is the same report that recommended lodge sizes ranging from 25,500 to 27,000 square feet. The Ecosign report was done at a global level and not meant to be used for an actual building design, which is why the association conducted a detailed programming analysis that superseded this information.
Bull Stockwell Allen (BSA), the association’s architectural partner in this ski lodge project, develops building metrics for a variety of ski lodges that uniquely depend on the resort type, size, program requirements, demographics, age, location and other factors. Due to these varying influences, there is no “one size fits all” square-foot metric that applies to the entire space of any given ski lodge.
In response to the referenced member group’s statement regarding sizing and capacity, the architect shares the following:
“To state that the proposed Tahoe/Donner lodge design is ‘50% larger than what industry experts would build…’ is simply untrue and is likely taken out of context. The reality is that we have developed metrics for different parts of a lodge, but these too vary depending on the type of resort, size of resort, program requirements of the resort, demographics and age, location, etc. In other words there is no such thing as one size fits all ski lodge and, therefore, no one-size square footage metric for designing ski lodge. It’s simplistic to think otherwise.
“To be specific, the industry ‘benchmark’ for dining space alone is 15 square feet per skier for mass dining, and 18 square feet for a more relaxed dining experience. This metric alone accounts for the purported 17-20 square feet needed for an entire day lodge. We have used other industry metrics to account for guest services and rental space, restrooms, kid’s program and ski-school, etc.
“If there is no disagreement regarding the number of skiers served, there should be no disagreement that Tahoe Donner needs a 28,000 square foot lodge. This is a minimum, not an extravagant endeavor of any sort. The space needed to run an efficient and effective facility on behalf of the homeowners, their guests and the public currently using the mountain to the economic benefit of the community.”
What is driving the exterior design?
Staff have received mixed feedback regarding the building design. The goals the design team is trying to achieve include:
- Blending the building into the steep hillside and bringing the building to the same elevation as the ski lift
- Containing and safely controlling snow shed, ice and stormwater runoff from the roof
- Harmonizing the look and feel of the design into the immediate surroundings
- Minimizing the environmental impact to maximize efficiency using building orientation and appropriate materials
- Selecting the most cost-effective solution for Tahoe Donner
What is included in the kitchen space?
The proposed 3,843-square-foot area is not just a kitchen; it includes every aspect of the food and beverage operation, including a space where customers select and purchase food, food service area, prep kitchen, storage, office space, dishwashing area and necessary refrigeration space.
Jon Mitchell, director of capital projects, further addresses this at the June 25, 2021 board meeting here.
Why is the yurt not being considered in the building replacement?
With the board selecting Option D, a lodge size of approximately 24,490 square feet with a total cost not to exceed approximately $23,419,661, the ski school will be brought inside the building and the yurt will be repurposed within the association campus.
What is the member/guest/public percentage use of the Downhill Ski Area?
Based on the average of previous seasons, the makeup of the Downhill Ski Area use is approximately 30% member, 30% guest and 40% public.
What is the public charged to use the area compared to members, and how much revenue does the public generate at the Downhill Ski Area?
The public lift tickets are approximately 50-140% higher than member rates, depending on age and time of the ski season.
What would the Downhill Ski Area look like as a member-only resort?
The cost to run the ski area is a relatively fixed expense that does not vary greatly with reduced attendance. For example, the ski area needs the same amount of lift attendants, ski patrol and maintenance workers whether there are 50 or 1,000 skiers on the hill. Without the public, we estimate expenses could be reduced by approximately 20%, or $600,000. However, without the public, we would lose approximately $2.24 million in annual revenue, and the Downhill Ski Area would lose money. Member assessments would go up approximately $240 per year (less cost of goods sold and public-related expenses) before inflation to cover the reduction in revenue.
How many days is the current ski lodge over capacity?
Based on existing services the current lodge provides, such as food and beverage services, rentals and more, the capacity is 450 users.
With this 450-skier capacity, the percentage of skiers visiting at a time when the current ski lodge was overcrowded has been frequent.
Updates provided from the September 8 special board meeting presentation.
Is Tahoe Donner trying to change the winter operating model and increase peak period use with this project?
The association is designing a new lodge to accommodate the current operational needs of the ski resort. The design accommodates the current lodge deficiencies, including California Building Code and ADA requirements, the kids ski school moving from a temporary yurt to the new building and appropriate dining rental space and back-of-house space.
The proposed building is being designed to better maintain current use and capacity; it is not trying to grow the Downhill Ski Resort operation.
Are we looking at other uses besides downhill skiing?
Potential off-season use is not influencing the design and sizing of the project; it is only noted that the building could accommodate off-season use if the association decided to move in that direction. Three off-season ideas were modeled based on ideas generated by the membership survey and focus groups conducted in late 2020, and no decision has been made on if we should pursue them.
Where does Tahoe Donner get water to make snow?
Tahoe Donner’s snowmaking water source comes from the Truckee Donner Public Utility District (TDPUD). TDPUD’s water supply has been studied extensively, and the sustainable yield is 22,000 acre-feet per year (AFY). The entire district uses about one-third of that, and we have ample underground storage ensuring that our water supply is not impacted by drought. In addition, the water loss used for snowmaking is limited to evaporation, and the rest is returned to the groundwater system. The Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA), which governs water use in the Truckee River Basin, reports that 84% of snowmaking water returns to its original supply (i.e. storing water as snow).
How many users are public users, and how much revenue does the public generate at the Downhill Ski Area?
Does the Downhill Ski Area make money, and how does it financially compare to other Tahoe Donner public amenities?
Yes. The Downhill Ski Area is the most profitable public amenity in Tahoe Donner.
The first graph below shows the three-year (2017-2019) average revenues and expenditures per public amenity. The second graph shows the net operating income after capital expenditures are included. Capital expenditures are the replacement reserve costs that are invested back into the amenities to keep them maintained and current.
These graphs do not account for discounted rates that all members receive. Additionally, the second chart includes capital expenditures.
What will the cost of the project be, and how can we better understand cost?
The board selected Option D, a lodge size of approximately 24,490 square feet with a total cost not to exceed approximately $23,419,661. To learn more about cost, explore the presentations on the key documents page here.
How does Tahoe Donner pay for projects of this nature, and what is the current status of savings for this project?
As a reminder, the ski lodge project will be funded by both the Tahoe Donner Replacement Reserve Fund and Development Fund. As of today, Tahoe Donner has a total of $13.9 million saved, which is made up of $3.5 million in the Replacement Reserve Fund dedicated to this project and $10 million in the Development Fund after the forecast spending for all 2021 Capital Projects. In 2024, the Association will have collected approximately $20 million for the project in the Development Fund.
Above charts updated October 15, 2021.
Note: 2026 projects are placeholders. Part of initiative #5 in the 2021 Workplan includes a 20-year capital improvement plan completed for the 2022 budget cycle. The plan will continue to be refined with staff and the LRPC’s input in 2022.
Will there be a special assessment?
As discussed and presented in the 2021 and 2022 budget meetings, we can fully fund the project without a special assessment or debt (which the bylaws prevent the association from having) by making an increase to the Development Fund portion of the assessment over the next three years.
As a reminder, the other components of the Annual Assessment (Operations Fund, Replacement Reserve Fund and New Equipment and Machinery Fund) are not impacted by this project.
Does the ski lodge replacement project interrupt other projects?
The association is working hard to improve all aspects of our community, and the downhill ski lodge is simply one piece in a much larger puzzle. New projects, including the lodge replacement, help the association meet the six initiatives outlined in the five-year strategic plan, which was drafted based on membership input:
- Safe community
- Recreation opportunities
- High-performing and fiscally responsible organization
- Environmental stewardship
- Planning, development and infrastructure
- An informed, engaged and livable community
A few proposed projects beyond the ski lodge project over the next five years include:
- ADA parking lot improvements
- Mailbox improvements
- Generator transfer switches at key amenities
- Marina deck expansion
- Implement trails/trailhead projects in the trails master plan
- Class 1 trail from Trout Creek Trailhead to Alder Creek Adventure Center
- Workforce housing feasibility studies
See the five-year capital project overview list that was presented at the 2022 budget workshop here. Additionally, Tahoe Donner has been coordinating with the Town of Truckee concerning a third access/egress route; learn more about the third egress on page 29 of November 2021’s Tahoe Donner News issue here.
How can the association improve its project and planning initiatives?
In addition to following the strategic plan and desires of the membership, the Long-Range Planning Committee (formerly the General Plan Committee) has been restructured to better aid the association in its long-range planning. The number of seats within this committee has also been expanded from 9 to 12 seats to provide even more support and consideration concerning the association’s long-range planning.
For additional information or feedback concerning the downhill ski lodge and other capital projects, we encourage you to explore the latest documents, frequently asked questions and feedback opportunities on the web.
What are capital funds?
Tahoe Donner manages three capital funds to which a portion of the overall assessment is allocated, depending on funding needs. These capital funds are the Development Fund, Replacement Reserve Fund and New Machinery + Equipment Fund. To learn more about each fund, click here.
Archive Financial FAQs
What is allocated overhead?
Allocated overhead is defined as a business organization’s overhead support for multiple amenities. For example, Human Resources supports multiple departments, as does IT, Communications, Finance and Maintenance departments. Some organizations comprehensively apply allocated overhead in their budgeting process and some do not. The association’s practice is not to systematically allocate general overhead in its published financial reports. It is important to note that allocating overhead does not affect the Annual Assessment.
How does my use of amenities affect my assessment?
Amenities are integral to Tahoe Donner. As specified in governing documents, amenities are paid for through a combination of Annual Assessments and user fees. These documents specify that the full assessment applies to all members, even if a particular member does not use some or all of the amenities.
Governing documents require the association to prepare an annual budget that covers common expenses less projected income from sources other than assessments, such as optional fees. Common expenses include both operating expenses and reserve funding. The resulting formula is: [Common Expenses] – [Non-Assessment Revenues] = [the Assessment]
 Declaration (C&Rs) Article II, Section 1(a); regarding fees, uses the words “shall have the right to,” “if”; i.e., fees are allowed, but not mandatory, nor is there a requirement that fees be charged to cover the cost of operating the amenities (common facilities)
 Declaration (C&Rs) Article II, Section 4(g) and Declaration (C&Rs) Article IV, Section 1(c)
 Declaration (C&Rs) Article I, Section 9; “Common Expenses” include without limitation all expenses, operational and otherwise, including funding of reserves for the maintenance, repair, expansion and replacement of the Common Areas and Common Facilities (amenities)
 Declaration (C&Rs) Article IV, Section 2(b)
 As cited in footnote 3
Is Tahoe Donner expected to make a profit on amenities?
Tahoe Donner is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization and, per IRS regulations, must not be operated for profit. Amenities will either result in an operating surplus by which operating revenues exceed operating expenses or an operating deficit, whereby operating revenues do not exceed operating expenses.
If operated as a for-profit organization, the association would likely have market-rate pricing for all its amenities without any consideration for member or guest rates. A recent study completed by Russ Branson and Associates points out that members and guests enjoy an estimated $1.1 million benefit annually from this pricing approach.
 https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/other-non-profits/social-welfare-organizations “…an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare. The earnings of a section 501(c)(4) organization may not inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”
How does the association handle an operating surplus/deficit per year?
At the conclusion of the fiscal year, all amenities and HOA operations are consolidated as an operating “entity.” In the event of an Operating Fund surplus to budget, the surplus may be transferred to the capital funds at the discretion of the board. In the event of an Operating Fund deficit to budget, additional assessment revenue for the following year will be required to cover the shortfall. In addition, the association maintains an Operating Fund balance contingency to ensure financial stability.
What is NOR?
NOR is an acronym for Net Operating Result, which you will frequently see within the association’s financial reports. NOR is the difference between operating revenues and operating expenses (does not include capital charge or allocated overhead), which ultimately determines whether an amenity is in a surplus or deficit position. NOR is one measure of an amenity’s operating performance. Surpluses in one amenity can offset deficits in another.
Why does the income statement for the proposed new buildings not include allocated overhead when the 2019 budget report includes allocated overhead?
The income statement in the Downhill Ski Resort pro forma reflects the Net Operating Result (NOR), which does not include capital charge or allocated overhead. The 2019 budget report was the only year the association allocated overhead costs to amenities in its published financial statements. This expense had not been allocated prior to 2019 and has not since. The association defines NOR for a specific amenity as direct revenue generated by fees less the direct expenses of that amenity. As stated earlier, allocated overhead does not impact member assessments.
Why don’t TDA’s financial statements include allocated overhead?
It is important to note that Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) do not dictate whether a homeowners association (HOA) must or should allocate overhead. GAAP refers to a common set of accounting principles, standards and procedures issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and aims to improve the clarity, consistency and comparability of the communication of financial information. Organizations are required to fully disclose and explain the reasons behind material changes to accounting policies in the notes to the financial statements.
GAAP does not specifically require HOAs to allocate overhead. There are instances where GAAP requires certain industries, such as manufacturing companies, to include indirect costs, sometimes referred to as “overhead,” to the direct costs (labor, raw materials, etc.) of the products they produce to fairly value the cost of inventory in published financial statements. Some nonprofit organizations allocate overhead to ensure that the grants they receive from government organizations are being utilized appropriately. Allocated overhead is typically a requirement for such grants.
As such, it is up to the discretion of management and the board to determine the appropriate accounting policy that provides clarity, consistency and comparability of Tahoe Donner Association (TDA) financial statements. TDA had not allocated overhead in the 10 years prior to 2019, did so in 2019 and has not allocated overhead since. For this reason, TDA has received an unmodified or clean audit opinion in instances where they both have and have not allocated overhead. These clean opinions were provided by multiple accounting firms that audited the association.
If TDA were to move toward allocating overhead, how would it impact my assessment?
Allocating overhead would have no impact on a member’s Annual Assessment. Each year, the board and management team carefully evaluate every amenity in a transparent and comprehensive budget process. As a result, the Operating Fund portion of the 2022 Annual Assessment was reduced by $50, or 5%, from 2021 (the Operating Fund captures 100% of the non-Capital Fund expenses of the association). From 2012 to 2022, the compound annual growth rate in the Operating Fund portion of the Annual Assessment was 3.13%.
As an HOA, it is important to remember that TDA provides services to members throughout the year – at prices discounted from a public or market price to focus on member enjoyment. If that focus was to change to require accounting profitability for all amenities, the membership would potentially see increases in pricing and/or decreases in service levels, opening hours, etc. during slower periods when demand is reduced.
As an example, allocating management overhead costs to the trails system, which generates little revenue ($1,102 budgeted in 2022), would produce an even larger Net Operating Result (NOR) deficit for that business (NOR is defined as Operating Revenue less Operating Costs).
What is the definition of capital charge?
Capital charge is that portion of the Annual Assessment that is allocated to the Replacement Reserve Fund (“RRF”) and can be attributed to each amenity and/or department. Examples of RRF investments include replacing an aging snow grooming machine, snowmobile, golf course tees and greens, etc.
Is each amenity responsible to fund their prospective capital charges out of their revenue streams?
No, all capital charges come out of the Annual Assessment in the form of funding for the Replacement Reserve Fund.
If capital charges are funded through assessments, why are they shown as an expense on slide 14 of the September 8 presentation?
Capital charges included on slide 14 of the September 8 board workshop presentation are Replacement Reserve Fund expenses and used to illustrate how a new facility might impact future Reserve Replacement Fund requirements. As a reminder, these Replacement Reserve Fund charges are already accounted for in the Replacement Reserve Fund. For an HOA with a dedicated replacement reserve study for capital charges, this is a common practice.
Why does the $1.1M capital charge in the 2019 budget report differ from the $1M capital charge for the existing building in the September 8 workshop presentation?
The capital charge in the 2019 budget report represents the entire Downhill Ski Resort. These capital charges include lodge assets, lifts, snowmaking, related equipment, grooming, etc. Capital charges fluctuate year over year depending on specific asset replacement(s).
The total capital 30-year replacement reserve amount from 2021-2051 at the Downhill Ski Resort is $29,178,601. The $1M figure used for the existing building in the pro forma on slide 14 of the September 8 board workshop presentation represents this future 30-year average based on the association’s replacement reserve study on the Downhill Ski Resort alone.
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