The past year has kept Mammoth Lakes residents mostly in the dark about negotiations over the lawsuit judgment debt. Now, Town officials say they want to hear from people on proposed plans to cut seven police officers and six other employees along with the closure of Whitmore Park and Pool – this, to raise $2 million per year to pay off the debt.
Citizens can find the five-year plan proposed by Town officials on the Town of Mammoth Lakes website. Google Town of Mammoth Lakes. On the left, click on “Town’s Settlement with MLLA”. Then, scroll down to Settlement Agreement and Related Documents. Under September 27, 2012 Documents, click on Proposed Restructuring Plan. You can go to our website to read this again.
For those who do not feel good about reading financial documents, the plan looks like a confusion of numbers. In plain terms, the documents say that the Town will come up short by more than $971,000 this fiscal year. That takes into account the more than $2.5 million payment to MLLA and $50,000 payment to Terry Ballas.
The documents then show the proposal to make up the $971,000 short-fall. Police Department cuts add up to $540,000. This includes elimination of seven officers – the Police Lieutenant, two sergeants and four officers. The plan also includes a cut of more than $287,000 from Community Development and a nearly $90,000 cut from Public Works and Parks. This year, closure of Whitmore Park and Pool will save $57,416. The total savings of eliminating the pool and one parks maintenance position will save the nearly $90,000.
The plan also includes elimination of the Budget Manager with a transfer of duties to the Assistant Town Manager for a savings of $69,000 plus. Other IT changes add up to a total savings of more than $96,000 in Finance and IT. To balance the budget this year, the proposal calls for use of $1.4 million from the Reserve for Economic Uncertainty, last year’s surplus and current surplus.
Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said that some legal fees will be returned to the Town and count as surplus. He said that he and others are “moving through implementing the plan and meeting with collective bargaining groups.” Wilbrecht said the restructuring plan will be on every Town Council agenda for the public to come forward with what they want. The Town Manager did say that emails and calls have come in to say that people want to offset proposed cuts. He said officials hope the public will bring up these thoughts “sooner than later.”
Wilbrecht did confirm that money from Tax Measures A and T “can be used to offset the proposed cuts.” Two Measures A were voted in as general fund tax money with the suggestion that they be spent on tourism and housing. Measure T is the same kind of general tax with a suggestion of expense on transit. These three measures bring in more than $3 million per year. Measures R and U funds could also be used for certain things.
When asked if citizens could say they want the Town to spend Measures A and T on the budget and save the police officers, Manager Wilbrecht said, “I’m expecting that.” The item on budget cuts is the last one on Wednesday night’s agenda which is relatively short.