Crisis, or conundrum, which ever words were used at the council meeting to describe the budget, developer fees sure have impacted the Town of Mammoth Lakes. The lack of developer fees that is. With a possibly record-setting crowd for a town budget review, former council member and Mayor Rick Wood, gave the current council an earful for letting the town financial situation get out of hand.
Developer Impact Fees were slated to help pay for projects like the proposed parking garage at the Village, a new Police Station, and a roof for the ice rink. Town staff had budgeted for at least one major construction project to come on line and pay fees this year. Right now it looks like no major projects will start in Mammoth in the near future, leaving the town $4.5 million in the hole.
Former Mayor Rick Wood had harsh words for the current council that approved this budget. With the country in a slump, Wood said that the Town was dreaming, if they thought a single large project would pull permits this year. He also said that the government cant spend money thats not in the bank.
Wood said that ten years ago the Town had 60 employees now there are 132. With businesses in town laying off employees and tightening their belts, Wood recommended that the council cut the town budget by 10% across the board.
Council member Kirk Stapp said that he agreed with 90% of what Wood had to say. Stapp apologized to the community for the budget mess, saying that he should have been more obstinate, about the assumption of development moving forward.
At the potential to be $4.5 million dollars short this year, Town Manager Rob Clark explained that the town could use the $3.2 million dollars slated for the parking garage at the village to help cover the shortfall.
It looks like the Police will have to continue to make do with their station in the former Jacuzzi store as the Public Safety building now waits on developer fees to come in. With $10 million of the $13 million slated for the Lake Mary Bike Path project coming from the state, the town will continue to pay their share of that project.
A hiring freeze has been proposed, but there was talk at the meeting about possible new hires, so how frozen the hiring ends up is yet to be seen.
Council member Kirk Stapp described these actions as taking the first steps. Additional steps may come at future meetings as a budget review looks to be a semi-permanent item on the council agenda.