A former Town Clerk called it an unlicensed “lobotomy”. Mammoth Town Council members called it a chance to grow and
change. Some in the audience cried when the Mammoth Town Council voted unanimously to lay off several town employees, including three top managers.
Weeks ago informed sources had told Sierra Wave of possible plans to eliminate manager positions and some mid-level jobs in Mammoth town government. For just as many weeks council members would only say they wanted “structural changes” in town government which might include staff changes.
Wednesday night, the budget talks almost immediately focused on lay offs. Earlier in the day, Town Manager Rob Clark had issued a memo that listed positions for elimination.
With barely controlled emotions, former Town Clerk Anita Hatter accused the Council of damage to the town and the
community. “You guys are performing a lobotomy and you do not have a license to do that. The knowledge that you will eliminate from this organization is disastrous.”
Hatter said the message to town staff is not to tell the truth if it disagrees with officials’ opinions. She implied that the staff had the courage to say the town has money and as a result took hard criticism from the Council.
Council members pushed ahead in the face of emotional pleas. Rick Wood asked Town Manager Rob Clark to read the list of positions that they might cut: The Deputy Town Manager, Finance Director, Human Resource Director, Building Official, Police Officer, Accounting Assistant II.
Mayor Skip Harvey started to back out of the layoffs. John Eastman called the town “top heavy.” Rick Wood called it an opportunity to lead. Matthew Lehman said, “There have to be dramatic changes.” Jo Bacon said, “I think this is the right direction. There is a consensus on the Town Council we have not seen before.” For those in doubt, a layoff vote looked inevitable.
Eastman made the motion and Rick Wood made the second. It was unanimous. Thursday, Rick Wood said what drove the Town Council to their decision was the agreement among them to take a “very, very conservative approach to revenue estimates” in view of local, state and national economic conditions. Wood said aside from the budget part of this, the move was about “changing the culture of the town.” He called it a style of government. He said Mammoth’s government had come to serve itself instead of the people. Wood added that the Council will immediately advertise to fill the new position of Administrative Services Director – a combination of finance and human resources. He said they expect someone on board by January first.