The Mammoth Lakes community learned very little new information on the grave state of the Town’s finances and dealings with the $42 million debt owed to MLLA when the Town Council met Wednesday night.
Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez had told Sierra Wave Media that the Town suffers from chronic lack of revenue to meet expenses. She repeated that same message in depth about the Town budget and how expenses have seriously out paced revenues over the last year or more and are likely to continue to do so in the future. Martinez explained basics of the budget and how the Town has decision-making power over only the general fund of about $17 million. She spoke of loans owed to the general fund like money borrowed by the airport to pay for attorneys over the lawsuit debt and other expenses.
The Assistant Town Manager said that Transient Occupancy Tax dropped due to the low snow year. That’s the major revenue problem. She pointed out that the Town has made large cuts. The once 130-employee staff is now down to less than 80. These and other cuts took $2.7 million out of expenses. Martinez said the organization is “bare bones, employees are overwhelmed and some work is not getting done,” she said.
Martinez said the Town also has unfunded needs. For instance, the Town is spending only $500,000 on street and road maintenance when the actual need is $1.5 million. The future, said Martinez, does not look good. She said this fiscal year is short $1 million and next fiscal year shows a $3 million shortfall already. None of this includes a pay off of the MLLA debt.
The Town Council agreed that the Reserve for Economic Uncertainty, which is $1.4 million, would have to be used to cover this year’s $1 million shortfall. Next year’s deficit has yet to be addressed, but Martinez did reveal that the Council will hold special meetings starting next month to answer questions from the public and hear their ideas on finances and MLLA. In fact, Mayor Jo Bacon said the Council may also end up meeting every week in June.
As for the MLLA debt and other Town creditors, Martinez said only that the Town is following the AB506 guidelines for mediation with creditors before considering bankruptcy. She said 16 out of 44 creditors have agreed to mediate. MLLA is not one of them, so far. (See proposed special and regular meeting dates below.)
PROPOSED SCHEDULE OF PUBLIC MEETINGS TO REVIEW AND DISCUSS THE TOWN’S FINANCES, SERVICE DELIVERY, SPENDING PRIORITIES AND POSSIBLE BALANCING MEASURES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2012-2013
Council meeting date
May 2, 2012 — regular meeting
Week of May 7, 2012 (exact date TBD) — special
May 16, 2012 — regular meeting
June 6, 2012 — regular meeting
June 20, 2012 — regular meeting
Subject matter(s) for discussion
May 2 – Presentation of the preliminary annual SUMMARY schedules for the baseline FY 2012-13 budget, with the focus on the General Fund. Discussion with the Town Council and public on: • Spending Priorities • Contemplated Balancing Measures responsive to the writ mandate and their Impact on Town’s services. Update from staff on the AB 506 mediation.
Week of May 7 – Presentation of the DETAILED departmental schedules for the baseline FY 2012-13 budget.
Review of the cash flow analysis and five-year projection by FTI.
Update from staff on: • AB 506 mediation. • MLLA settlement process and State court writ.
Continued discussion with the Town Council and public on: • Spending Priorities . Contemplated Balancing Measures responsive to the writ mandate and their Impact on Town’s services
May 16 – Update from staff on: • AB 506 mediation; Acceptance of restructuring plan measures. . MLLA settlement process and State court writ.
Continued discussion with the Town Council and public on: . Spending Priorities . Contemplated Balancing Measures responsive to the writ mandate and their Impact on Town’s services.
June 6 – Measures R and U — revenues and possible eligible items for consideration.
Capital Improvement Program.
June 20 – Update from staff on: • AB 506 mediation; Acceptance of restructuring plan measures.
• MLLA settlement process and State court writ.
FY 2012-13 budget adoption by the Town Council: • Regular budget legislation responsive to the writ mandate (budget
resolution, appropriations limit, investment policy). • Legislation on the assessment and community financing districts. • Policy decisions and direction to staff on implementation.
Additional special meetings will be scheduled, if necessary, in the month of June 2012.