With the economies of Bishop and Mammoth dependent on tourism, it’s no surprise both towns are facing serious budgetary problems. The depths of those problems were agenda items on both Mammoth and Bishop’s Council meetings.
While some California businesses have been given the green light to open, with restrictions, Governor Gavin Newsom’s travel ban is still in place. The state-wide travel ban and continued closure of lodging have taken a big bite out of both sales tax and Transient Occupancy Tax in the Eastern Sierra.
Bishop’s Assistant Finance Director Jennifer Rodricks was the deliverer of the bad news at the City’s May 11 meeting. Rodricks anticipates a $1,062,749 shortfall in the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. Her report to the Council included options to cut expenses; a presentation by Mark Mandell of Mandell Municipal Counseling provided information on vehicles for increasing revenue.
Based on the potential shortfalls, Council also declared a fiscal emergency. City Counsel Dean Pucci explained the declaration would have no immediate impact but would give city administrators the power to take quick action. “I’m not saying they will execute those powers,” he said, “but that they can if necessary.”
The Council will hold a budget workshop in June to go further into the options available.
Mammoth’s Town Council was warned of a shortfall in mid-April. The plan outlined by Town Manager Dan Holler was to proceed with those projects that could be moved forward with town staff but put on hold those with no current grant funding. In essence, projects like the parks maintenance irrigation would be designed, but construction will be on hold and the generators for use during public safety power outages are being installed.
Funds initially earmarked for now postponed projects will go into the general fund or be diverted to more critical projects.