For Mammoth officials, a bad reality has hit home for real. For many years, the Town of Mammoth Lakes will have to pay on a $30 million court
judgment and things will likely not stay the same.
At Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting, Councilman Rick Wood described the painful negotiations with Santa Monica businessmen who hold the judgment for Mammoth Land Acquisitions. Wood said that it was a meeting by invitation. Wood, Mayor Skip Harvey, Manager Mariana Martinez and financial consultants sat on the Town’s side. Wood said they all came out of the meeting with the agreement that, as a group, they would see what they could accomplish. “Settlement will not come easy,” said Wood.
He said both sides did agree to share information and the financial condition of the community to jointly tell what the Town can afford to pay. Wood called it a good meeting. The bad part – final realization of the terrible loss to Mammoth. Wood said, “As I was leaving and returning to Mammoth, I had an extraordinary sense of sadness. We found ourselves with a $16 to $18 million Town budget and a judgment of an overwhelming size.”
Wood said it’s tempting to look for blame. He did say the public deserves something different than what they have had. “Never again,” said Wood, “will we find ourselves in this situation.” Wood said Mammoth will explore options before litigation ever happens again. Councilman Wood said he doesn’t know who is right, but he does know that a judge, jury and the court of appeals said Mammoth was wrong. Now it’s time to pay up.
Wood went on to say that this is potentially devastating to the community and that bankruptcy is not the answer. “There is pain to come,” said Wood. He said the Council will keep the public posted. “We won’t sugar coat this,” said Wood. “There is pain ahead.”
Mayor Skip Harvey underscored the sadness of the Santa Monica meeting. “This was a business transaction,” said Harvey. “We have to deal with it.”