Several members of the June Lake community attended the regular Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday to provide a status update on the closure of June Mountain.
“We had a cordial meeting with Rusty Gregory, Carl Williams and Ron Cohen yesterday [Monday],” explained Double Eagle Resort co-owner Connie Black. The group also had a meeting scheduled with the Forest Service on Wednesday.
“Following that meeting we can then formulate an action plan,” said June Lake CAC member Patti Heinrich.
Black, however, pointed out that “there is a fine line between optimism and hallucination,” when it comes to what can and can’t be done to save June Mountain.
According to Ralph Lockhart, Black’s son and partner at the Double Eagle, the group was told at its Monday meeting with Gregory that scheduling the necessary lift inspections for June Mountain to be able to operate in the winter was one of the primary reasons for not being able to open.
The lift inspections have to be done well before the Mountain opens in December, which makes the window of opportunity to get the Mountain open for the 2012-13-winter season even smaller.
“If the inspections could be done the time window would be a little larger,” Lockhart said. It would give the community more time to brainstorm solutions. Lockhart, however, did not know the cost to do the necessary inspections.
Supervisor Vikki Bauer’s Recap of meeting with the Forest Service on Wednesday:
Ed Armenta, new Inyo Forest Supervisor, was very forthcoming and supportive of the community in yesterday’s meeting. He stated that they will be sending a letter of non-compliance to MMSA and requesting that a financial audit be completed. He stressed that revocation would only be something used way down the line and as a last resort (read protracted legal battle here). He stated that it might be reasonable to allow any permit holder a season of closure to re-configure their organization, but that they were examining their options. Non-compliance has no specific timeline and would proceed until all reasonable solutions had been explored by both parties. The revocation process is a different process that would come after, and IF it were to reach that, MMSA would have 180 days to respond and full appeal rights.
The Forest Service re-iterated that they would work with any parties interested in the June Mountain permit in this time period. So far no party has contacted them. in the meantime, MMSA holds this permit and the best short term solutions is to work with MMSA to either open or sell the permit to a potential buyer. Again, now is the time for potential buyers, groups of buyers or non-profits to step forward to the Forest Service.
I will start proposing ideas to the Mono County Board of Supervisors at our August 7 meeting in Bridgeport. We will be discussing air service subsidies, zoning of the Rodeo grounds, the transient overlay ordinance and ways to financially support MMSA operations at June Mountain this upcoming winter.
Stump announces successor
Long Valley Fire Department’s Fire Chief, Fred Stump announced he would be terminating his Fire Chief employment in October to prepare for his new role as Mono County District 2 Supervisor. Stump stated that the preliminary choice for the new chief is Vincent Maniaci, a current Captain for the Fire Department.
The Board reviewed and approved its annual contracts with the Inland Aquaculture Group as well as the Conway Ranch Foundation, the two organizations associated with the Conway Ranch and the Alpers Trout raised there.
The contract with IAG was the annual agreement for the County to purchase trout from IAG. The Board approved 3-0 (Supervisors Vikki Bauer and Hap Hazard were absent), the contract with the modifications that IAG had requested.
The major modifications, according to County Counsel Marshall Rudolph were:
1. An evergreen agreement rather than a one-year agreement, with the contract rolling over each year until one party chooses to end it. A discussion of the amount of fish provided and cost would still be held every year.
2. A mutual hold harmless clause.
The Board also voted 3-0 to approve the contract with the Conway Ranch Foundation, but did not allow one of the changes that CRF had requested.
The CRF had requested that if a possessory interest tax were ever created, that the County agree to pay it. A possessory interest tax, according to Rudolph is a state property tax law and applies to an entity that has a right to use a piece of land but doesn’t own it. The County Assessor determines if the tax exists.
Currently, CRF is not paying a possessory interest tax, but the group wanted the contract to bind the County to pay it if things ever changed.
Rudolph explained that in its contracts, the County holds the other party responsible for paying the tax if one ever occurs, and the Board chose not to allow this clause to be changed.
“We need a professional opinion [to change it] and we don’t have an Assessor,” said Supervisor Tim Hansen.
“Taxes are the cost of democracy,” added Supervisor Larry Johnston. “Leave it as is.”
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