Ballots were expected to go out to Mammoth Lakes businesses to vote on whether they support a new Business Improvement District with a new assessment on their revenue. The BID, as it’s called, would raise some $5 million for various kinds of marketing.
An open house on this issue was scheduled for Thursday, May 9th from 5 to 7pm at Rafter’s Restaurant. Mammoth Lakes Tourism Director John Urdi told the Town Council last week that the BID Steering Committee members will be there to answer questions. Urdi said ballots would go out to businesses. He said the proposal requires a 51% plus vote to move forward.
If the vote does come in that high, a Resolution of Intent will go to the Town Council. Urdi said he expects that to happen May 15th. If there is approval, Urdi said a mailing with an explanation will go out to businesses.
A 45 day comment period would follow. He said there would be an opportunity to comment at the June 5th Town Council meeting with his hopes of approval at the first Council meeting in July. If there is approval, collection of the BID assessment would start in August.
At last report, the assessment amounts to 1% on lodging, 1.5% on retail and restaurants and 2% on lift tickets. One long-time restaurant owner, Greg Simas of Grumpy’s, stood up to question whether this is the right time for more taxes. He said, “If it is, the whole community should vote in a sales tax increase.”
Simas said many business owners “have no idea what this is about.” He also said, “How many times can we go to the well?” Simas said customers are a precious commodity, and Mammoth keeps passing things on to them. Simas questioned, “How much can they absorb?” He also pointed out that there are over 70 cities with a Business Improvement District and none assess restaurants and retail.