The Mono Supervisors held one of their travelling meetings in Mammoth Tuesday night. As part of the deal that the Eastern Sierra Transit Board worked out, the supervisors approved a $100,000 loan to keep the buses running during a time of serious budget trouble at ESTA.
With expected cuts to the state budget, ESTA faces short term cash flow problems and long term budget short falls. The ESTA board consists of members from the Mono Supervisors, the Inyo Supervisors, the Mammoth Town Council and the Bishop City Council. At their last meeting the ESTA board agreed to ask the local governments for $325,000 in loans to avoid service cuts and layoffs.
The Mono Supervisors were the first to formally agree to a portion of the loan. The Mammoth Town Council was scheduled to discuss a larger loan of $125,000 at their next meeting. The Bishop City council was asked to consider a $100,000 loan at their next meeting.
While ESTA is required to pay these loans back, the two Inyo Supervisors on the ESTA board were not interested in loaning ESTA a portion of the money because there was no set plan to repay the loans.
This appears to have rubbed Mono Supervisor Byng Hunt the wrong way. Hunt, who is on the ESTA board, said that this was another example of Inyo County not being able to step up to the plate. He said that the Mono supervisors would support the loans, because we’re able to.
Supervisor Vikki Bauer explained that with these loans, it was her belief that ESTA will survive and prosper like the YARTS bus system in Yosemite.
ESTA has one year to pay back the Mono County loan. If the Mammoth Town Council and the Bishop City Council approve the loans, ESTA buses and Dial-a-Ride should continue to run without major changes to service.