This submission is Ruth Harrell’s comments to the Town Council Tuesday night:
Town Council and fellow citizens of Mammoth Lakes,
I’d like to emphasize the fact that we are here to offer some ideas and perspectives on solving the budget issues that face our community, not to criticize or be negative. The lawsuit, notwithstanding, the town has been in a budget crisis for close to 4 years now and will not recover unless BOLD steps are taken to change our direction.
Suggestions to consider:
Evaluate the possibility of contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement. If this has already been studied, can the citizens of Mammoth learn the results, and if it hasn’t, why not?
Reduce town departments even further than has been done already such as Asst. Town Manager, Parks & Rec Director or Asst., Housing Director, Community Development. When activity picks up, we can contract for services rather than hire full time employees with all the expenses that go with that.
Definitely keep current levels of funding for tourism and even increase it since this is our major source of funding. Tourism is the economic engine of Mammoth Lakes. We cannot afford to cut in this area if we are to increase the revenue.
Consider disincorporation as a town. Years ago, in 1984, when the town incorporated, too much of our property taxes were given away in the deal. This left us even more dependent on TOT than anything else. This position is particularly vulnerable in low TOT years. If the town were unincorporated, the county would be obligated to spend more of our property taxes paid on services and facilities within the Mammoth Lakes area. Occasionally small towns disincorporate when they become fiscally insolvent. i.e. Cabazon, CA 1972
Bankruptcy is certainly an option and restructuring of the town. I believe that these last two ideas are compatible and can include all of the above when restructuring.
Other municipalities have done it successfully and continue today. We have the opportunity to move into the future with a new perspective. Let’s make the most of it and be proactive.