In an effort to cut back the budget by the $800,000 that the Town Council had requested and was recommended by MTRiP (Mountain Travel Research Program) consultants, Rob Clark, Town Manager of Mammoth Lakes brought a proposal to a closed session meeting on Monday night, August 31. The proposal suggested laying off the Tourism and Recreation Director position as well as a Senior Planner position. The reasoning was that these two positions would most likely not be necessary once the Tourism and Recreation Department is completely restructured and the Destination Marketing Organization, or DMO, is put into place. However, the DMO transition is not expected to be complete until next summer. Laying off those two positions at this time would have disrupted the transition period, officials said.
Several of the Towns agency partners got wind of what was going on prior to Mondays meeting and called the Council members to let them know they did not agree with these possible cuts. By the time Wednesday nights regular Council meeting rolled around, the idea had been vetoed, and Clark made a public statement that the Town was committed to working on a smooth transition from Tourism and Recreation to the DMO.
We will have a participatory process going forward, Clark said.
Instead, the Town has offered retirement incentives to two more employees: a Sales and Marketing position and the Town Clerk position. The two individuals holding these jobs have agreed to the retirement package and will retire by the end of the year. Two other positions, an Account Clerk who is planning to leave before the end of the year and a Police Sergeant position that was recently laid off will be frozen at this time. These cuts and freezes will save the Town $557,476 of the $800,000.
Our highest priority work will continue and the lowest priority work drops off, Clark stated.
A second phase of reductions will be considered at the November 17 Town Council meeting to make up the remaining $265,000 of the $800,000. According to the agenda bill, at that time the Council will have the pre-audit results for FY 2008-09, the results of the first quarter of FY 2009-10, and updated estimates for the balance of FY 2009-10.
Clark did however reassure the partners working on the DMO transition that they will not be affected at the November 17 meeting, and will have until July 1, 2010 to get all of their ducks in a row. This includes determining what do to with the recreation half of the Tourism and Recreation Department, since the DMO only deals with tourism, and what to do with the Tourism and Recreation Commission once the department is restructured. According to the ordinance for Measure R, the Tourism and Recreation Commission is the body responsible for distributing the Measure R funds. Therefore, at this time it does not seem that the Commission could just be dissolved as some have suggested.