Mammoth Town officials are counting up responses to a community survey on what to do about paying off the big MLLA debt. Meanwhile, citizens continue to post website comments and letters and talk at morning coffee about what went wrong and what happens now. There’s a lot of anger.
Why didn’t town officials talk with local law enforcement about the consequences of police cuts? And, why not consider other cuts like top managers?
Mayor Pro-Tem Rick Wood said he expects more discussion and hopes the town can move past the “us versus them” attitude that now exists. To criticism that the town failed to examine impacts of police cuts first, Wood said, “We are looking for long-term, creative, innovative and cost effective solutions to our budget issue.” Bottom line, he said, the Town has to pay MLLA $2 million a year. Wood said that he has received emails from former police officers who support the police cuts. He has heard both sides. Said Wood, “We have to find a balance.”
Councilman Wood said there may be innovative models around that speak to the need for downsizing police departments. He also pointed to 35 students in the reserve class at Cerro Coso. Wood said town officials are gathering information on their proposals and more will be revealed at the Council meeting Thursday at 6pm.
A number of citizens have asked, why doesn’t the Town get rid of one of its expensive managers to save money? Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht who now oversees planning as well, makes more than $311,000 per year, including benefits. Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez collects around $250,000 plus use of a town-owned condo. Those who think management is top heavy point to the salaries and benefits of other administrators in Inyo and Mono where governments run on one manager at less money.
Mono County Administrator Jim Arkens makes around $228,000. All of the figures include benefits. Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio makes $213,000. City of Bishop Administrator Keith Caldwell brings home $237,000.
Councilwoman Jo Bacon said it would not be a smart thing to cut either the Town Manager or Assistant Manager. “Both are carrying huge workloads,” she said. “They are well compensated but they are incredible workers.” Bacon said Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez’s contract is up in March and the Town will look at priorities at that point. Bacon did say Martinez is “interested in staying.” Bacon also pointed to the fact that the Town no longer has department heads at the airport, recreation, planning and finance. Lower level managers were hired instead.
Councilman Wood said Martinez clearly has value, was instrumental in budget cuts, mediation and bankruptcy proceedings and works incredible hours. He said the Town needs a budget analyst which will be examined at the end of Martinez’s contract. Wood said Martinez’s job will be completed at some point.
The Council invites citizens to talk issues at Thursday’s Council meeting which starts at 6pm. The third policy item on the agenda says, “Community discussion pertaining to the Town’s proposed Restructuring Plan to make payments on the approved settlement with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition (MLLA) and Ballas Entities, and build long-term fiscal stability.”