The national recession will have "unpredictable impacts on Town finances." In a press release this week from the Town of Mammoth Lakes, that is the statement by officials who also put out details of where town government stands on money and the impression that officials stand ready to adjust to changing conditions.
How will the national recession affect the town? Officials say possibly a continued slow down in development activity, State budget impacts, fewer visitors but maybe some federal stimulus funding.
Officials say the Mammoth Town Council will face a day by day situation and will have to "respond to challenges if and when they arise." Officials say a contingency plan has been established to guide the Council's responses if required. They gave no further details on this contingency plan.
This week's press release did say that the Town Council and staff went through a workshop in November to help refine the community vision and goals, which the Council will use to prioritize budget decisions.
Officials said the current year budget assumes that TOT, sales tax, property tax and other revenues will remain level with last year. They point to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area adjusting its projections to equal last years activity. Officials say that the Town has eliminated 21 positions mostly in the processing of development applications, police department and other areas.
In addition to the sting of national recession, Mammoth also took a hit on legal fees and a potentially huge damage award from the Hot Creek lawsuit. Town officials note that consulting attorneys believe Mammoth has a strong case on appeal. If the Town has to pay the $30 million damage award, officials say the Town "may seek municipal bankruptcy in order to protect essential services."
The good news today – the State controller has directed Mono County to collect money for the Education fund and pay the Town of Mammoth Lakes money owed for state-confiscated sales tax and vehicle license fees. Town officials say this action cancels out the potential $1 million additional shortfall to the Town's budget this fiscal year. Legislation will still have to take place to fix this complex situation in the future.