Letter to the Editor: Get proactive

harrellThis submission is Ruth Harrell’s comments to the Town Council Tuesday night:

Town Council and fellow citizens of Mammoth Lakes,

I’d like to emphasize the fact that we are here to offer some ideas and perspectives on solving the budget issues that face our community, not to criticize or be negative. The lawsuit, notwithstanding, the town has been in a budget crisis for close to 4 years now and will not recover unless BOLD steps are taken to change our direction.

Suggestions to consider:
Evaluate the possibility of contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement. If this has already been studied, can the citizens of Mammoth learn the results, and if it hasn’t, why not?

Reduce town departments even further than has been done already such as Asst. Town Manager, Parks & Rec Director or Asst., Housing Director, Community Development. When activity picks up, we can contract for services rather than hire full time employees with all the expenses that go with that.

Definitely keep current levels of funding for tourism and even increase it since this is our major source of funding. Tourism is the economic engine of Mammoth Lakes. We cannot afford to cut in this area if we are to increase the revenue.

Consider disincorporation as a town. Years ago, in 1984, when the town incorporated, too much of our property taxes were given away in the deal. This left us even more dependent on TOT than anything else. This position is particularly vulnerable in low TOT years. If the town were unincorporated, the county would be obligated to spend more of our property taxes paid on services and facilities within the Mammoth Lakes area. Occasionally small towns disincorporate when they become fiscally insolvent. i.e. Cabazon, CA 1972
Bankruptcy is certainly an option and restructuring of the town. I believe that these last two ideas are compatible and can include all of the above when restructuring.

Other municipalities have done it successfully and continue today. We have the opportunity to move into the future with a new perspective. Let’s make the most of it and be proactive.


9 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Get proactive

  1. Ken Warner May 10, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Declare bankruptcy — dis-incorporate — repeal Prop. R and Measure U — give the airport to the first sucker who will take it.

    Let MMSA promote tourism since they rake off the most money from the people coming into town. If the local businesses want to promote tourism out of their own cash flow then they should. The people who live here and are paid pennies to work the lowest paying jobs in America should not be responsible for paying for advertising to promote business.

    • Bill May 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Repeal R and U????? After the local community voted these in?!!?! I don’t think so!!! This may be the ONLY (safe) source of funding for certain programs and trails etc our future.

      Let MMSA promote tourism(into only their own lodging/business interests)?? They do that already, but so too, should the ToML for the rest of the business community.

      Ken, please don’t ever run for T. Council if these are your good ideas…

      • Ken Warner May 11, 2012 at 9:58 am #

        Hi Bill,

        Again, I ask you to justify the money people pay in taxes for Prop R and Meas. U. What are we getting for those funds? MLTPA has gotten over a million dollars. Do you see a million dollars worth of trails and public access? And don’t point to the Lakes Basin Bike Path. That was funded from other sources.

        What has Measure U funded that you use? Which certain programs and trails? What future?

        Those two tax measures were sold with promises that have not been met. If we declare bankruptcy, those funds are bound by their own wording to not be used as replacement funds but only as funds for unique projects that usually require matching funds. If the town is bankrupt, will the town be able to get matching funds. And, like you, the town leaders will see those funds as a pool of money to be used to pay the debts caused by their own incompetence. We the people do not need to pay for their incompetence.

        And safe funding for what exactly? Marketing? Your arguments are always related to funding marketing. Lets not get diverted into a discussion about Prop R and Measure U. The future of those tax measures — and remember those are taxes on a population that is already struggling — is a separate discussion.

        The on going discussion is about how the community is to survive bankruptcy and the community may not survive as a town that has the right to tax its residents to make up for its community leaders incompetence.

        Your description of a vibrant, thriving community can never be achieved by relying on tourism (or real estate development and sales) alone. The town has had tourism as it’s only industry for 50 years. What we are now and the difficulties we face is a direct result of that 50 year reliance on a fickle industry.

        And your only solution is to continue on the same path and are suggesting even greater investment and reliance on a failed strategy.

        Or you could be right. I’m still waiting for you to show us the numbers an prove me wrong.

  2. what the ...? May 10, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    “Get rid of this.”
    “Get rid of that”.
    “Reduce employment.”
    “Reduce it more.”
    “Fire everybody – things are bad.”
    (Perhaps this is the way they do things in Seal Beach where the Harrells live.)

    Sounds like what a CEO of ski resort would do after a bad snow year.

  3. Bill May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Pretty soon ML will be made up of nothing but transient workers (min wage) and retired old folks…

    Is that what our community really wants????

    When my family goes out to dinner, to the movies, shopping, and to the local school – I see many (but fewer every year) Mammoth and other outlying community members. LOCALS. Families, young couples, young single people… these are the people who make up an important component of a thriving community with healthy schools and thriving local businesses during the SHOULDER SEASONS.

    Local restaurants and retail businesses NEED a thriving community – wake up people and realize that in our town, many of the FEW good jobs come from County, Town, Nat’l Forest Service, BLM, Police, Sheriff, Firemen, and many other government positions. It’s either that, or, you work for MMSA, own a local business (fewer every year), work at the Hospital – or you are one of the transients, retired people, or are independently wealthy (trust fund etc).

    So when you are in favor of CUTTING everything, think about what the “trickle down” (remember how that is supposed to work?) impact will be.

    I’m not saying we don’t need to tighten our belts – we certainly do need to reduce in many areas – but there should be well thought out reductions and we need to consider what is worth paying more for.

    • Jake May 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Not all of us in town are stuck in a service job …. some of us are work from home people. I have worked out of my home serving clients all over the world since 1990. Some of you people need to give up on service jobs on open your eyes. Stop being a slave to a job and Rusty.

      And the town should run a town, let the business owners pay for their own marketing….

      • Bill May 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

        Jake it is great that you are doing something that allows you to work from home and serve clients from “all over the world” and make a living in this expensive town!

        Many others in town are not so lucky. We rely on people coming here and having a good time, here.

        While we do need more diversity in job potential – hopefully digital 395 will aid in this endeavor – for the time being, service jobs (some higher paying than others) are a big portion of town business. We are a resort destination, like it or not, and we still have a lot of potential in this niche. Even in a funky economy, low snow year, some people in the resort business and cottage industries that feed from it – are doing well enough.

        My opinion is simply that the ToML (through TOT) needs to continue to support the Tourism Dept. I feel they have some good, talented people there. If you disagree thats fine.

        • SierraFan May 11, 2012 at 10:40 am #

          Well said Bill,

          Hopefully the 395 communication project will help future growth here and the surrounding areas. This is such a great community!!! The TOT is higher than in many other resort areas but needed I know. I’m not sure what the folks here in town think about this but what if we could increase tot by allowing second home owners rent out their single family homes like the Lake Tahoe area does. Condo’s are nice but we lose out big time to Tahoe when it comes to the “ultra luxury” rental business. Just food for thought.

    • SierraFan May 11, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      Well done Bill,

      Things are tough now and the belts as you say need to be tightened. This is what business is folks. You can’t just keep growing and spending until the end of time. There’s almost always retraction! It’s sort of a checks and balance situation in business. If it wasn’t for this dreaded lawsuit, things may have kept going then crash later and probably crash much harder.

      As hard as this whole situation is, we’ll be much better off down the line learning the dreaded lessons of the current and soon to be past. There’s not a perfect system that just keeps running and running. We need to stick together, continue to find and elect the best officials we know how and that have the best interest of the town. Trust me, I wish there was a perfect system.


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