Mammoth Sales Tax Plan Hits a Hurdle

As some Mammoth Officials gear up to push a sales tax measure to pay for parks and recreation, budget belt tightening may force a change in priorities.

Wednesday night, the Mammoth Town Council met with the Tourism and Recreation Commission to discuss putting a sales tax raise on the June Ballot. Council member Kirk Stapp calls this the RAP tax, which stands for recreation, arts and parks. The idea has been to raise the sales tax from 7.25% to 7.75% and use the extra million dollars a year to pay for parks and recreation.

This RAP tax ran up against a major hurdle at the Town Council meeting Wednesday night. Finance Director Brad Koehn and Town Manager Rob Clark explained to the Council that the new construction slowdown meant less of the Developer Impact Fee money slated to help pay for town projects like the new police department, the parking garage at the Village, and the roof at the ice rink. Clark recommended delaying these projects until the money comes in.

Clark emphasized to the Council that the town was not broke, but that with zero DIF coming in this year he recommended that we don’t spend the money until we have it.

With the potential delay in construction on the new public safety building to house the police department, Mammoth Police Officer Jesse Gorham, speaking on behalf of the Police Officers Association, told the Council that the current police station, a converted jacuzzi store, was inadequate and hindered the ability of the police to do their jobs.

Tax raises are never an easy measure to get voters to sign off on. This situation has left the Council in the difficult political situation of pushing a sales tax raise for parks, while another important community need, (the police station) faces the possibility of being put on the back burner.

The Council has to hammer out the details on the sales tax measure in February to get it on the ballot in June, otherwise state law says that the next chance to put a sales tax measure on the ballot is the council election in 2010.

The council did not make a decision on the issue Wednesday night, but there will now be more to talk about next Tuesday, when the Council meets again with the tourism and recreation commission to discuss the potential sales tax raise.

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