Finding themselves between a rock and a hard place, the Mammoth Lakes Town Council voted unanimously to approve a package put together by Town staff and Town employee organizations, which they hope will be the final cut they have to make to salvage a suffering 2008/09 budget. However, if the current economic climate continues, they may not be out of the woods yet, and further contingency plans have been developed and will be used if needed later in the year. Town Manager Rob Clark did not elaborate on those plans.
The agenda bill that Council approved on Dec. 17 eliminated nine more Town staff positions (on top of 12 that have already been eliminated earlier in the year), delays funding in growth in employee leave liability, charges work to funds other than the general fund (such as Measure T), and makes reductions in compensation agreed to by Town staff. These four items will cover the $1 million deficit the Town is facing at this time.
The nine positions that were eliminated are a Parks Maintenance Worker position and Community Development Technician position, both of which are vacant. The other seven positions are filled at this time, and the employees will be offered a retirement package. These positions are: Administrative Secretary, Supervising Administrative Engineer, Senior Public Works Inspector, Police Sergeant, Animal Control Officer, Senior Records Supervisor, and Building Inspector. These positions are expected to be cut no later than March 1, 2009. The cost savings is expected to be $400,000 and the layoffs mark a 16.5 percent total cut in Town staffing.
Another portion of the accepted package was reductions to compensation for remaining Town staff. This will include a deferred compensation match to all employees for six months, employees taking one day per month unpaid furlough for the next six months, and police officers forgoing their on-call pay for six months. This portion of the cutbacks is expected to save $250,000. The other two portions of the package will make up the remaining $350,000.
Mayor Wendy Sugimura and the rest of Council thanked the employees for coming to the table and be willing to do what was best for the Town. She pointed out that four of the five Council members had also agreed to forgo their stipends for the next six months in honor of the flexibility of all of the employees.
Councilwoman Jo Bacon requested plans for the restructuring of the new budget in January 2009.