LA looks at tax hikes, what about Mammoth?

While the Town of Mammoth Lakes struggles over a kind of surgical reduction of its government structure, the city of most of Mammoth’s customers – Los Angeles – prepares four possible tax hike measures for the March ballot.

After Town of Mammoth officials called for severe cuts in the police department and other employee and facility cuts, the discussion of new taxes came up. At the last Town Council meeting officials heard from some citizens that they want a higher sales tax, lift ticket tax and use of already approved tax money to help hold together the town’s services.

Judging from news in the Los Angeles Times, southland skiers and visitors would likely not even blink at higher taxes in Mammoth. If the March tax hike passes, LA’s sales tax would go up from 8.75% to 9.25%. Mammoth’s current sales tax stands at 7.75%.

On this week’s ballot, Los Angelenos will vote on a county sales tax to pay for public transit. In March, LA may also vote for a higher property tax, higher levies on parking lots and increased taxes on real estate sales. LA officials want to avoid more cuts in parks, police, fire and other services. Sounds like a familiar scenario.

At Wednesday night’s Mammoth Town Council meeting, officials will hold a workshop with the Planning Commission to talk about incentive zoning and transient rentals in single family zones. This idea would raise money for the Town General Fund which is 60% funded by TOT.

Wednesday’s Council meeting also includes as the last item more discussion about Town re-structuring to pay off its debts. The item also includes responses to questions and results of the online survey. Some Council deliberations will take place at this meeting with a vote on restructuring currently scheduled for December 5th. Officials will likely discuss cuts, new and old taxes. The regular meeting starts at 6pm in Suite Z.


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17 Responses to LA looks at tax hikes, what about Mammoth?

  1. Ken Warner November 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Anyone who votes for more taxes of any kind except those on the business community, eg lift ticket surcharge, is an idiot. So figure there’s going to be tax increases of some kind.

    • JeanGenie November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      Ken, Lift ticket surcharge is not a tax on the business community, it is a tax on people whi ski and board.

  2. Jeremiah Ritter November 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Regarding the proposal to allow nightly rentals in single family homes and the assumption that it will raise revenue – Let’s for a moment, ignore the fact that permitting nightly rentals in single family neighborhoods will severely impact those neighborhoods and residents in a negative manner. Instead, let’s look at the unsubstantiated assertion by proponents that allowing nightly rentals will result in an increase in transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenue.

    First, opening single family homes to nightly rentals will most likely just cannibalize existing rental income. Except for the very busiest of holidays, there is little shortage in Mammoth for rentals big enough to fit large families and groups. High occupancy condos abound in Mammoth. As a result, opening single family homes to nightly rentals will merely take business away from large condominium units, reducing tax revenue from one source and replacing it with another. If we’re lucky, this would only lead to a revenue neutral result. However, by their very nature, home rentals are prime for tax evasion, which could actually lead to a decrease in overall TOT collection.

    If single family homes were opened to nightly rentals, there would be little or no way to catch cheats. This is because once a neighborhood is opened to nightly rentals, it will be impossible to know which visitors are being asked to pay the tax by the owner and which are not. Right now, few homeowners risk renting their homes on a nightly basis, because their renters will stick out like a sore thumb in quiet residential neighborhoods. But once whole neighborhoods are opened up to nightly renters, tax evasion will be easy. Given our town’s past and current failures to properly collect TOT from private individuals who own condos, there is little hope that they will be able to properly regulate and enforce TOT laws in residential neighborhoods.

    So before we throw away one of our last and best remaining assets, (the charm of our neighborhoods and foundation of our year-round residents) let’s recognize that doing so won’t even accomplish the goals intended. Instead of having TOT collected by reputable commercial lodging businesses, who wouldn’t dare risk the loss of their business licenses due to tax evasion, we will instead increase our reliance on the goodwill of hundreds of private second homeowners who have little fear of being caught if they don’t pay their fair share of taxes.

    Proponents of nightly rentals continue to site comparisons to destination resorts such as Aspen and Vail. However, it was this type of “keeping up with the Joneses” thinking that got our humble town into the giant mess it is in today. The idea that we must be something that we’re not has already cost us dearly, both in money and in quality of life. Let’s not allow a continuation of that type of thinking to further undermine the remaining things that make our town special.

    • Ken Warner November 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      Amen !!!

  3. Tourbillon November 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Tax hikes cure government profligacy in the same way that giving a drunk a bottle of whiskey cures his alcoholism.

    A state whose government is as economically illiterate as that of California, spending billions on bullet trains to nowhere that no one ever will ride, cannot be trusted with more money extracted from the workers who earn it.

  4. Sean F November 5, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    +1 for a combo approach of tax increases aimed at visitors (who won’t notice it) and cuts across the board to all city departments. I don’t want 7 cops laid off.

  5. tax 'em good November 5, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Ski resorts cater to the richest in our society.
    Many of those rich from Los Angeles can afford second and third homes here.
    Tax the @%*#) out of them.
    They can afford it.

    • Big Rick OB November 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

      WOW…10 to 1 . We must have some rich people in our midst.

      • Rich Worship November 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

        Big Rick,
        Doubtful we have “rich people in our midst” (those who don’t believe in taxing those who have all the money today).
        Just a bunch of people who have been taught to believe the rich are their Lords and Masters.
        This has been part of the GOP platform for years.
        Today its a Liberals (the Limbaugh demonized definition) v Republicans (supremo Americano) political game. And for the dumbest in our culture – it’s working like a charm.

      • Big Rick OB November 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

        WOW…21 to 2 . OUCH times 2!

    • Bill November 5, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

      And so what are you going to do when that source goes dry?

  6. TMR November 6, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I propose a 5 cent “tax” on all alcoholic beverages sold in the Town of Mammoth and have the fund pay down the debt owed by the Town, allow for the MLPD to remain fully staffed and put at least some of the burden on the tourist “community” instead of gutting what locals have been paying into for our necessary programs (measures R and U). It’s not much per individual (5 drinks out would only be 30 more cents on the tab), but would add up quick.

    • Roger Rilling November 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      Sooooo- 5 x 5 cents is 30 cents? and how long does it take with this math to get to 2 million dollars? TMR should run for town council. (or– maybe with 5 drinks we could have more return from DUI)

    • sierragrl November 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

      I like it TMR…I wonder what 5 cents a drink would add up to in the course of a year??? any guesses anyone? I swear, one happy hour at Slocums they must sell at least 200 drinks, and that’s just the bar area, not the restaurant part.

      • Roger Rilling November 7, 2012 at 12:04 am #

        sierragrl– let’s be really generous and guess we serve not 200 drinks but instead, 20000 (twenty thousand) . At 5 cents a drink that is $1000 (one thousand) if we did that 365 days a year, we’re still short $1,635,000 of covering the $2,000,000. Do you have a plan “B” ?

        • TMR November 7, 2012 at 9:02 am #

          Okay, 5×5 is in fact 25, and my math was without a drink. Still, collecting $1, 635,000 in a year, as Roger suggests may not solve the entire problem, but it is more than we have now, right? The Town came out of the of the shoot framing the argument by putting the Police Department and monies from U and R on the chopping block. We, the people, took the bait and stuck with the “argument” as if these were our only alternatives. No reason we can’t get creative and find a way to raise money toward the debt. If we continue to rely on the Town to find a way out of this we will continue to chase our collective tails. It’s time to put our talent and good community minds together and come up with something that works that will impact the people who live here the least possible…hence, my tax idea. Just keep me away from the math 😉

          • Roger Rilling November 7, 2012 at 11:30 am #

            TMR– I did not suggest we could collect $1,635,000 in a year. Even with fantasy math, that was the amount still missing. I was being satirical about the 5 drink fantasy in the first place. With a vastly reduced police force, we would be unable to even benefit from an increase in Drunk Driving. (In addition to math, a look at the dictionary may be in order. The word is chute not shoot.) I do think you might be a good fit for town council.


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