The Mono County Economic Development, Tourism, and Film Commission voted on Tuesday, Jan. 26 to fund thirteen different Mono County events with money from the Community Event Marketing Fund.
Jeff Simpson, Economic Development Assistant, explained that the Community Event Marketing Fund is derived from the Town of Mammoth Lakes General Fund, the majority of which comes from property taxes.
Simpson said that, in order to be considered for funding, events needed to be run through a non-profit organization. Fifteen events were brought before the Commission requesting funding. Liz Grans, Economic Development Assistant, said the Fund distributed a total of $26,789, although the total ask for all projects was $48,800. Mammoth Rock ’n Rye and the Eastern Sierra Symphony were the two events that received no funding; others received partial funding.
Alicia Vennos, Economic Development and Film Commissioner for Mono County, said “There were no relationships that required abstention or recusal,” referring to The Sheet’s question as to whether Steve Morrison, Film and Entertainment Manager for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, had a vested interest in funding the Mammoth Gran Fondo. MMSA is a “huge supporter” of the event, according to the Mammoth Gran Fondo’s website.
The Sheet also asked whether Michael Vanderhurst, Director of Sales and International Marketing for Mammoth Lakes Tourism, should have recused himself from a vote to fund the Mammoth Lakes Event and Wedding Expo. Vanderhurst’s wife, Sandra DiDomizo, runs Green Fox Events, one of the organizers of the Expo.
Simpson stressed that this was precisely why the events requesting funding were required to be run through a non-profit organization, “so as to not have any conflict of interest, to promote a certain business, or have an event at a certain business.”
He also said that Craig Schmidt, Director of the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, was the one to submit the application for the Event and Wedding Expo, not DiDomizo. DiDomizo is the President of the Chamber of Commerce.
Schmidt said DiDomizo is “one of our biggest contributors to the event, donating over 100 hours of her staff time,” and she does not derive financial benefit from the event. “I don’t see any problem with conflict of interest.”
When asked what the deciding factors were for not funding the Symphony and Rock ’n Rye, Simpson said there simply weren’t enough funds to go around.
Vennos said that “the funds were allocated fairly and equitably across all communities in Mono County to help seed new or expanded events which will drive overnight visitation to our region, primarily in shoulder seasons.”