For something like 16 years, Tom Farnetti has represented District 1 in Mammoth Lakes. Now, Bill Sauser and Larry
Johnston vie for this seat. At the recent Mammoth Lakes Chamber Candidates Forum, the two men answered questions and made statements. Sauser, the long-time resident with a down-home, locals spin and Johnston, with a more polished, detailed view of government and Mammoth Lakes.
Sauser said that he thinks there should be a “lot of partnering with the Town of Mammoth and the county” on tax dollars.
Johnston said in his door to door campaigning he learned that unemployment is the number one issue that faces District 1 and the county. He said he has ideas – “Frugal and efficient government, a return of resources to Mammoth, increased public input, stabilization of tourism, year-round jobs and stimulation of the construction trade.
On the state of the county budget, Johnston pointed to the increase in assessed property values and revenue to government. He said Mono County has a $6 million reserve, a capital improvement program and no employee lay-offs. Johnston did say assessed values are projected to go lower next year. With state funding uncertain, Johnston said it’s “stand-by mode”.
Should Mono County do more marketing? Sauser said, “Tourism is the most important industry. In the past, we have not told potential customers what we have. We need to partner with the new Destination Marketing Organization in Mammoth and focus on recreation, trails and bringing people in.”
Johnston said he has attended Tourism Commission meetings, talked to the county economic development people. He complimented work on brochures and fishing enhancement and said Mono needs to work on promotion. “When someone comes here,” he said, “we have to make sure they get what they pay for.”
Should Mono County help support Air Service? Johnston said he stands with the chance for the county to help maintain air service in the fall. He said Mono could step in with $45,000. Johnston said this would not only serve tourism but locals who need a way to travel.
Sauser also said air service gives locals a way to get in and out of the region. He said the airport is just one thing that the County needs to step up to. He named recreation for kids and adults as another thing.
Do enough tax dollars come back to Mammoth from the County? Sauser said probably not. He said when property tax dollars go up, maybe Mammoth can work out a greater percentage. He favors identifying specific projects for a greater contribution from the county like a recreation center.
Johnston said District 1 includes $6 billion in assessed value. He said the return of tax money to Mammoth is “perhaps not as good as it could be.” Johnston said the county and town could “take on a few more projects – a track at Whitmore, the road at the airport, a cover on the ice rink. These would not require a change of the tax structure.”