Town officials want citizens to fill out survey


Mammoth Lakes, California, October 10, 2012 – The Town of Mammoth Lakes is seeking input from residents and business owners of the Town through an online Resident Survey, available at this address: and at the Town’s website –

The Survey seeks comments on the Town’s proposed Restructuring Plan, which calls for significant reductions in expenditures to help pay $2 million annually to Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition (MLLA) and divert over $111,000 annually to the Ballas entities (the Airport’s original Developer). The proposed reductions include the elimination of up to 13 Town positions, including up to 7.0 police sworn jobs, and discontinuing the Town’s 50% funding for the Whitmore Pool and Park.

TOWN RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS OWNERS ARE ASKED TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, BUT NO LATER THAN THE EVENING OF SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2012. The Town plans to present the survey’s results at the November 7, 2012 public meeting, when the Town Council is scheduled to have their deliberation of the proposed Restructuring Plan, in preparation for the December 5, 2012 vote. If you have questions or experience technical difficulties with this survey, please email, or call (760) 934-8989, extension 223.


36 Responses to Town officials want citizens to fill out survey

  1. Distrust abounds October 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Will there be an independent, non-government citizen on hand to review the results of the survvey?

  2. Ken Warner October 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Here’s my questionair:

    Every time the Town Council does something stupid, I think to my self, can they get any more stupid? And then they do something that is even dumber — like cutting the police force and sacrificing public safety while housing and tourism both spend more money than the cuts to the police force.

    So my question is: can you get any dumber?

    The Transit budget is: $1.1 million
    The Housing budget is: $1.2 million
    The Airport budget is: 1.8 million
    The Marketing budget is: $2.2 million

    The Public Safety budget is $5.6 million

    The proposed cuts can to the Police budget can easily be made up from a few points from the previously mentioned discretionary spending. But the Town Council seems to want to go for the Gold in Stupid.

    Here’s the Town Budget Press release. See if you can find a place to cut instead of the P.D.

  3. Ingrid Braun October 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    I started the survey and found it flawed by page 3. I do not support the proposed cuts to the police departement, nor do I endorse some form of tax. There was no “None of the above” choice, so I quit the survey. Seems the town is tipping its hand by giving only the choices of slash police staffing or levy a tax.

    • Ken Warner October 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

      That’s a common strategy. They always give you the “choice” of what they want or something much, much worse without any other options.

      The notion of “Public Input” really means that the Public has to bend over and … well you know the rest.

      • upthecreek October 11, 2012 at 9:11 am #

        @ Ken
        we seem to be on the same page today


    • Roger Rilling October 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      I agree with Ingrid that this is not actually a survey, but instead, is to provide cover for poor decisions already being implemented. Actions include scapgoating Ballas and MLLA, as if they are the ones that forced the town onto the path of Greed and Arrogance. No mention is being made of the real culprit (ie. the bully in black) who should be at least sharing if not bearing the whole burden of the settlement. As a resident, I do not wish to vote myself into slavery to cover up ego problems for town leaders.

      • Recall inept councilmen October 11, 2012 at 6:30 am #

        Too little – too late.
        Recall Eastman and Woods.

    • upthecreek October 11, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      Since when do they care about what the people think??

      What a scam


    • Sierra Lady October 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      The useless survey has been revised. You can now make more choices and write in comments.

      B. Richter

  4. MoMoney October 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    This survey is a sham. Do you actually expect us to believe that you suddenly came up with this survey in response to the community’s upset over the PD and Whitmore cuts? Yeah right, the council planned this from the beginning. Let’s just pick the two things that people get the most worked up about so they can “give us permission” to tap into measures A,T, R, and U. Don’t play us for fools. Own up to it! Make some decisions for crying out loud!

    • Time to face reality October 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      I agree with you that most governmental entities have a plan to “Tax” in order to make theri budgets work…But I think this Council is realistically looking for options.

      This Council is made up as as Volunteers…$300 a month plus Health Insurnace is not compensation for the work that they do…Give them a break. Many of the decisions have been made by prior Councils. Help them to make the right decisions for our community, without berating them. We as a communithy need to help them to make th right decisions (whatever those decitions are).

      Blaiming and saying that it’s their fault will never get us anywhere.

      Where do you as a community want the cuts to come from? BE SPECIFIC!

  5. Realist October 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    To all town officials…

    If you need a survey, you don’t know what you are doing.

    All you do is throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

    This just reinforces every bad decision you have ever made.

    It’s time to quit, move aside for someone who knows how to run this town.

  6. Ken Warner October 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I just took the questionnaire. It’s not as bad as it could have been. There are ways to indicate support for the P.D. while not supporting general taxes. The Business community would be taxed according to the logic of the questionnaire but that’s ok with me.

    The last question asks for suggestions. Here’s what I wrote:

    Sell the airport. Eliminate Assistant Town Manager position. Do not agree to mediated settlement because it is worse than any judgment the bankruptcy judge could impose. Eliminate Tourism and Housing Dept. Shrink Community Development to reasonable levels. Call for the resignation of all City Council members and hold general elections to find people who can make sensible decisions.

    • Sara October 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

      Ken, I agree; eliminate asst town manager. I also agree with eliminating affordable housing, however, my income is based on tourism, as many others in town. I’ve seen a difference in my business with the growth of the airport, bringing international visitors we’ve never had before. The marketing department does an incredible job and thanks to their efforts this summer, I was able to grow my business quite a bit and pay off some debt. I am struggling with letting some cops go, as I have tremendous respect for what they do, however, an average cop costs us $250k with salary and benefits per year. That just seems crazy to me! It’s not like we live in Detroit! Finally, people on here have been threatening to recall the council for a year now. Do it already. I bet the only 2 members who’d care is Rick Wood due to his ego and John Eastman for his health insurance loss, and who the heck is crazy enough to take this mess on? Not me. We had an election recently and no one ran!

      • Tom October 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

        Well you live in a resort area and the mountain is going to keep advertising more and more so I dont think you are going to lose anyone by getting rid of the tourisum department. Sorry!!!!!!!!!!

  7. quietstorm October 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    The survey is fine to take and does allow for different options/solutions/answers.

    The above statement from a poster is incorrect b/c they quit the survey:

    “Seems the town is tipping its hand by giving only the choices of slash police staffing or levy a tax.”

    Instead of not taking the survey or quitting part way through, please take it esp if you do not plan on attending any public meetings…get your opinion heard!

    • H October 11, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      There are no multiple choice options regarding reducing community development, recreation staff, public works maintenance, Steve Searles $60k per year salary, and outsourcing airport staff. So while it is not a terrible survey, it is certainly not comprehensive to say the least. There is a comment section at the end to express your views however – a small concession. How about elimination of taxpayer funded health, vision, and dental benefits for the Town Council? I calculated they cost taxpayers $120k per year and it would go a long way to save one police officer position or keep Whitmore Pool open. I’m not sure that this Town Council has earned the right to be afforded those benefits (not to mention that they certainly all have the means to pay their own way).

      • Nancy Backerman October 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

        Didn’t realize town council members receive health/dental/vision benefits as part of their deal for being on the town council. I agree with H, I’d much rather put those funds towards a police officer’s salary or keeping Whitmore Pool open (considering both options provide a service that benefits an entire community) rather then providing the town council with health benefits (something that only benefits an elite handful of people within the community). Seems very self serving if the town council doesn’t consider this option as one of the budget cuts.

        I would like to see those currently running the town figure this out without raising taxes or using funds from previously elected measures meant for other purposes. Come up with budget solutions that work within our current means. As a taxpayer, I’m not willing to help bailout the town and finance their repeated mistakes out of my pocket. All the layoffs from the town the past couple years were to save money (including an assistant town manager), then this current assistant town manager position is outsourced and hired on a “short term” basis at an exorbitant cost to the town- essentially wiping out much of the budget savings from those previous layoffs. Someone is out of touch with reality – the out of pocket cost to the town for the current assistant town manager’s compensation package is ridiculously high, probably enough to pay for at least two police officers salary for a year and then some.

        Enough already.

        • Unstoppable Council October 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

          Until the citizens of Mammoth find the guts to storm the Bastille, those they’ve elected will continue laughing at them (all the way to the bank).

      • Sara October 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

        I’ve looked this up, H, and the council costs the town $80k a year with their $300 a month income and health benefits. Not too bad for 5 people working 30 hours a week, regardless of how well they are doing their jobs. That being said, I thought the survey was lousy! They act like they want to hear our opinions, yet put together a very limited survey!

        • Nancy Backerman October 12, 2012 at 10:31 am #

          They ran for town council knowing it was not a paid position and hopefully, fully aware of the time commitment that such a position would entail. So whether it’s $80K or $120K – it’s still too much and I’d still rather see those funds go towards funding a police officer’s salary or helping keep Whitmore pool open – either option is a much more acceptable return on the investment for the community as a whole. And if a town council member isn’t happy with the amount of unpaid work they’re having to do then they shouldn’t have run for the position in the first place.

      • Tom October 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

        I understand this is a huge problem but everyone better get on board and figure this out soon. The snow will come and so will the people if we dont have Cops,Public works and the rest of the town emplyees this town will go back to the county and we will see some huge service drops. Good luck to us!!!!!

    • Ingrid Braun October 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      The survey would not let me proceed beyond page 3 unless I made a choice. None of the choices are acceptable to me. The police department is already well below minimum staffing, so I strongly oppose reducing it further. But I will not be conned into believing a tax is the only answer. Cut the things that are nice to have but not essential for survival. Start with the redundancy in the Town Manager office.

  8. Steve October 11, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Ken, As a business owner I say no more taxes, it easy for a guy with a pay check to tax about taxing us more. We are not going to solve problems by taxing us more. Get a fing balanced budget for God sakes and fire the two over paid town managers.

    Anymore taxes and I might quit and then people are going to lose jobs.

    • Ken Warner October 11, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      In essence, I agree with you. There’s enough taxes. We can start by repealing A; T; R and U. And I think we can find a balanced budget by eliminating expenditures that can be worthwhile in better times, but now, we simply can’t afford like Tourism expenditures, public housing expenditures, free transit and the airport. Those are expenditures that a town with surplus money would find reasonable. We no longer have surplus money.

      The Town should strip the budget down to the bare necessities. A fully funded Police Department is an absolute necessity. Tourism, housing, free transit and the airport are not in any way necessary.

      If A;T; R and U are repealed, that will allow the residents and the local businesses to keep more of their money. Then the business community can come together to fund what ever they feel is necessary.

      That’s the fair way to structure the economy. The town should never subsidize the business community as it has been. That’s socialism isn’t it?

      The town should concern itself with providing basic services. We have tried the experiment where the town is in business to sell itself and we have clear evidence that it doesn’t work. Let’s move on to a more reasonable economy that doesn’t force people to live in a company town.

    • upthecreek October 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm #


      This is all they know.. It’s all about protecting themselves and their Wild Pensions.

      Mammoth has been living in the time of the Wild West..

      Spend spend spend…Tax Tax TAX TAX


  9. Nobody will resign October 11, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    Nobody is going to resign, Ken. That much is clear. That might lead to investigations and/or evidentiary hearings that just might uncover some severe graft (palm-greasing) going on. This sort of thing has been commonplace in this community forever. (Do you think the current mayor is a developer by coincidence?)
    Who is going to be the person (or persons) to get the ball-rolling on a recall vote?

    • Tom October 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      Can we say “CITY OF BELL”

  10. MJA October 11, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Rather than signing another agreement with Ballas which will in all likelihood lead to further litigation if not tomorrow then 20 years down the road, give him a one time payment of whatever you can afford today and be done with him. Hasn’t the town learned anything from the last deal they signed with this guy? Payment plans are for people who can’t afford the full price, Mammoth can’t afford another bad deal.


    • Jon Boyer October 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      Ballas is not the problem. Stupid decisions by the Town Council is.

  11. Sara October 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    You know what we’ve failed to debate here guys, is the cops unwilling to take a pay cut. The council wants to reduce their budget, so the cops could unite and agree to take a 20% cut rather than let the younger officers go, but not one cop has offered that. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve taken a 20% pay cut (at least) thanks to last season and our national economic crisis. Am I out of line here? We could keep all of them if they reduced their pay to what other towns similar to ours get. And I’m sick and tired hearing people rant and rave our town is going to turn into Flint Michigan if we have fewer cops. Come on, our busy weekends are full of families with children.

    • Sean F October 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      Sara – I am fairly sure the cops already took a 24% pay cut last summer.

      Now talking about solutions – I would like to see all employees take a small % pay cut, and perhaps add a small % increase in the overall sales tax to balance the budget. In good times the retained city employee’s pay should be restored to normal.

      Assuming a small tax could be passed that can’t happen until next year do to the fact we need to vote on it. The real problem is the short term budget.

      NO one wants more taxes but I really DON’T think people will stop coming to Mammoth if the sales tax charged in the city goes from 7.75% up to say 8%.

      A .25% tax increase on $200,000,000 economy could help a lot.(I am assuming the Mountain does around $150,000,000 a year in biz and maybe there is $50,000,000 in taxable business in the city? I dont know if these are remotely accurate #’s). If I did my math right this .25% increase could generate $5 million a year in revenue for the city.

      What does that mean to each resident or visitor? It means for every $100 you spend you would pay an additional quarter ($0.25 cents) in tax. I think it is a no brainer that this should be done.

      I don’t know all the in and outs of raising taxes in a city and how that money is split up and if a .25% increase solves the cities problems, saves people’s jobs, and allows for economic expansion efforts (a new pool or whatever) then I say lets do it.

      If you are curious about the sales tax rates in any other city in CA see the below link. YOu will see we are not out of line going to 8% considering all the issues (liabilities) that need to be paid.

      • Ken Warner October 13, 2012 at 10:28 am #

        With Prop R, sales tax in Mammoth Lakes is 8.75% already. Enough is too much….

    • Truth Check October 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      The cops have been taking cuts for years. Their last one was 24%.

      Now they don’t know if they will have a job in 8 months. The majority will leave the area and go where they can have job security. Mammoth PD will then die. It will be impossible to hire cops up here. The sheriff will not be able to build up a force to cover Mammoth for at least a year, if he could hire enough at all.

      The collapse of Mammoth PD should be very evident by the first of the year. The department has been destroyed by Wood, Eastman and Lehman.

  12. Sean F October 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    One thing the citizens of Mammoth need to know that creating a survey is not as easy as you think. I have created many online surveys for my business and the first several were crap. Creating the questions in the correct way that gives you actionable information is not as easy as you think. I am happy the city at least tried. Asking around I am told this is the first time they have tried an online survey. I give them points for trying and I bet the next survey incorporates some of the beat down comments/criticisms here.

  13. Sean F October 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    I did my math wrong (duh). A .25% tax increase would yield $500,000 (not $5mm) in revenue on a $200,000,000 Dollar tax base.


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