Members of the Mammoth Town Council will spend part of their Fourth of July in a special meeting to decide if they should vote to spend Measure U, or Utility Users tax in Mammoth to subsidize air service this fall from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes by Alaska Airlines. The Town would spend $400,000 of those tax funds.
The Council planned to meet at 2pm July 4th to talk about this. The agenda bill says that “there is a significant risk of losing year-round air service…if funding to subsidize the proposed 4 days per week air service this fall is not secured.” At risk, Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht says, is the loss of service, ability to generate as much Transient Occupancy Tax, the FAA million dollar annual enplanement reimbursement, and other economic impacts.
The agenda bill proposes that air service subsidy be paid by Mammoth Lakes Tourism – $150,000; Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – $300,000; and the Town of Mammoth Lakes – $400,000.
Town staff says air service subsidy fits under the Measure U ordinance which, in part, says the tax money can pay for mobility purposes. Town staff says air service qualifies.
The ordinance does not allow the Town to substitute Measure U money for existing Town financing. The Town Council will have to decide if spending Measure U money is substituting or “supplanting” already budgeted funding. Officials say funds have not been spent directly to subsidize air service by the Town for two years, although Mammoth Tourism has spent money on this.
The Measure U account holds $84,401 from last fiscal year and is predicted to receive $922,853 in the new year in user utility tax on gas, phones and electricity.
The Town Council will direct staff to come back with a resolution appropriating Measure U funds or not.