A shake-up in the Town of Mammoth Lakes? Monday, sources close to town government reported that several department heads could face possible lay-off, as directed by the Town Council. Three members of the Council have firmly denied that the Council gave such orders, although one of them did state generally that the Council does want “staff re-organization, employee cuts or program cuts” in the new budget. They all maintain the details are up to Town Manager Rob Clark.
News sources pointed to what they said was discussion of potential lay-offs by September of Assistant Town Manager Karen Johnston, Finance Director Brad Koehn, Human Resource Director Mike Grossblatt, and Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw. Mayor Skip Harvey and Councilman John Eastman firmly denied that the Council had issued any such order. Harvey said, “The Town Council does not give specific directions to the Town Manager about individual employees.” Harvey said that the Town Council does have concerns about Town government and getting efficiency of operations, and about staff numbers. “When times are tough,” said Mayor Harvey, “you have to look at the whole range.”
Harvey said councilmen made campaign promises to do what’s necessary. “We could get by with what we’re doing, but why not be efficient and respond to the times.” As for naming names of employees to lay-off, Councilman John Eastman said, “That’s absolutely not true.” Eastman said the Council did tell the Town Manager to cut $1.2 million more from the budget. He said they did not like Rob Clark’s proposal presented last week for some piecemeal cuts. Eastman said it’s up to the Town Manager to recommend any personnel cuts. He said Clark is in a “very serious position.”
Eastman said the Town Council is “after staff re-organization, employee cuts or program cuts. We’re hopeful this is the Town Manager’s way of approaching things. There have to be changes made,” said Eastman. When asked about claims of lay-offs, Town Manager Clark said, “This is not something I could comment on.” Clark said that personnel cuts would be considered in an effort to balance the budget. He expects that the Council will extend the current working budget to September, he said, as they work out changes.
Councilman Rick Wood said of allegations that the Council may have given termination orders, “We have not done that.” Wood did say, “I have no doubt that individual council members have opinions, as do I, as to who we think should lose their jobs. It’s not for us to communicate that to anyone. There was no closed session discussion of that,” said Wood. Councilman Wood said that there are changes coming and that Mammoth will have a different looking “austerity” government. He added that Mark Wardlaw is not on his cutting list. Wood went on to say that the Town should not be caught up with who will stay or leave. “We need to find the appropriate level of government to provide services.” He said it’s the wrong approach to protect employees instead of providing value to the people who live here and visit. “It’s a matter of what it should take to deliver services to the community.” Wood, like the other council members, said that the Council gives Rob Clark their priorities. ” It’s up to him,” said Wood, “to fit in what we can afford.”
We placed calls to all of the department heads named by sources as targeted for possible lay-off. We were able to speak with Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw who said he is not talking to the Town Council about these matters. “These are Rob Clark’s issues,” he said but did maintain he has not talked to Clark about this either. Wardlaw added that he doesn’t pay attention to rumors. He said that the Council is setting up assumptions in the budget now and from that “will determine total staff resources.”