Hard times and hard decisions for the Town of Mammoth Lakes as a drop in bed tax revenue could lead to additional cuts and rumored lay-offs.
In December, employee associations sat down with Town staff to hammer out an agreement that led to the elimination of nine positions and a one day a month furlough for town employees. With Transient Occupancy Tax bed receipts coming in short of projections for January and not expected to pick up, Town staff and the employee associations were scheduled to be back at the negotiating table Thursday.
The taxes that people pay when they stay in local hotels, motels, and condos are the towns bread and butter, making up about two thirds of the budget. Town Manager Rob Clark explained that staff had projected TOT revenue in January to come in at a level similar to last year. Town Staff had projected $1.9 million in TOT receipts for January, but ended up $400,000 short. While December was strong for TOT, Clark says that staff expects the weak bed tax receipts of January to continue into February and March, typically big months for TOT in Mammoth.
Clark explained that while bed tax revenue is down, skier visits are actually stable compared with last year. Why the bed tax revenue is down while skiers are still heading to Mammoth is not known for certain but a number of factors could be involved. Clark explained that there may be more discounts on hotel rooms, more people are doubling up on rooms, and more second homeowners are coming up to ski.
While the reason may be hard to pin down, the budget loss is real. Whether this leads to additional layoffs, salary cuts, or furloughs is yet to be seen. The Town Council has scheduled negotiations Thursday with the Mammoth Lakes General Employee Association, Mammoth Lakes Management Employees Association, the Mammoth Lakes Peace Officers Association, and the Mammoth Lakes Public Works Employees Association. The closed session meeting was scheduled to start at noon.