The “good deal”
If I am fortunate enough to be elected June 8 to the Town Council, my first priority will be to address the unintended (or perhaps the intended) consequence of the Town’s CBIZ policy. The Community Benefits and Incentive Zoning (CBIZ) policy was developed from the 490-page “Destination Resort: Community and Economic Development” report, which in all probability was never completely read by the Town’s policy makers. One highlight of the CBIZ policy is A.4. To wit:
In order to balance the desire to achieve benefits described in this policy with the cumulative impacts of growth, impact fees (including affordable housing, development impact fees, and public art fees) are not applied to square footage or density provided as community benefits or granted as an incentive.
In other words, the CBIZ policy mandates that there are no fees collected on additional density given to a developer or for the square footage of identified community benefits. For example, when applied to Old Mammoth Place (OMP), the proposal before the Planning Commission trades $6.5 million in affordable housing and impact fees for $26.2 million in community benefits: public plaza, commercial space, convention space, underground/understructure parking and a “mid-block connector.” The developer also receives 244 additional units of density for providing these community benefits. So the developer gets $6.5 million in fee exemptions plus 244 additional units of density and the Town gets the above identified community benefits.
The first question the Planning Commission might want to raise is the fact that the Town’s existing Municipal Codes don’t allow trading affordable housing or impact fees for community benefits. The deal being negotiated with the OMP developer is predicated on changing Municipal Codes after the deal is approved by the Planning Commission and Town Council. The public hearing needed to change Municipal Codes might be a little awkward given CBIZ mandates the changes.
The second question the Town Council might want to address is the fact that during the campaign to pass Measure R (Trails and Public Access) the political commitment was made that the Measure R revenues would not be used to supplant revenues being collected from other sources, ie money collected from impact fees dedicated to trails. “Transit and trails” are part of the impact fees collected from developers, which are now being traded away for community benefits. Apparently, “trails” are no longer a public priority or benefit.
The third questions raised by CBIZ is: How is the Town going to backfill the $6.5 million in lost fees? The idea that the next large developer will pay fees doesn’t backfill the fees that have been traded away. And why would a developer not want to enhance his project and bottom line by providing community benefits on site in exchange for additional density and an exemption from affordable housing and impact fees?
One final point, the idea that this is a “good deal” for the Town because the TOT revenues and property and sales taxes collected from this project will more than pay for its municipal impacts is invalid. This argument ignores the fact that the property taxes collected from residential homes, where second homeowners and employees visit and live, doesn’t fully cover the cost of the municipal services they receive: snow removal, parks and recreation, public safety, etc. In other words, the Town’s budget should not be viewed as directly linked to an individual development. Property taxes, sales taxes and TOT revenues should be viewed as a “pool” of funds to be used for the community as a whole.
Beware of self-congratulation
Town Manager Rob Clark ’s aggressive “defense” of the Town’s fiscal policy and budget decisions is striking for what he failed to say.
He failed to say that despite public warnings from Rusty Gregory and myself, the Town Council and staff failed to see the recession coming before it happened. He failed to acknowledge the bad bet the Town made on expected developer impact fee revenue. He failed to report that the Town committed to projects before it had money in the bank to pay for them. He proudly announced that the Town has $8 million in the bank, but omitted the fact that it “borrowed” $9 million from its own reserves in order to balance its capital and operating budgets. He declared that the Town Council has taken action immediately to balance the budget, but failed to acknowledge that the Town has a structural (long term) budget deficit which can only be corrected by restructuring the government itself.
Beware of self-congratulation. One’s actions speak louder than words.
At our Eastern Sierra Academy PTSO meeting last week, we got blindsided with the revelation of a slight (120 percent) miscalculation of the 2010-2011 school year budget deficit. Instead of the expected $1 million deficit, we are now told there will be a $2.2 million deficit.
As legally stated, pink slips must be delivered by Monday, March 15, to any staff whose jobs might be lost. The action taken by the ESUSD superintendent at this point has been to produce Resolution 10-06, which is expected to be voted on during a Special Board Meeting at Lee Vining High School on Friday evening, March 12.
Resolution 10-06 could, among other things, lead to closing the Eastern Sierra Academy campus, which will effectively eliminate the school in its current format. My son is a freshman at the ESA, and the one and only reason he is going there is for the academic excellence of that school. I feel that this action, if taken, is not only rash, but irresponsible.
If the academic opportunities for our children are truly important to the ESUSD school board and superintendent, they will neither destroy nor dilute the highest achieving academic school in Mono County, and one of the highest rated schools in the United States.
Seeking a different perspective
What is it with former county employees running for Supervisor? Hap Hazard put in 30 years for the sheriff’s department, Larry Johnston has at least a couple of decades under his belt in planning and now former Clerk/Recorder Renn Nolan, after 34 years working for Mono County finds that retirement is just not enough.
Come on people! There are many opportunities for Hap Hazard, Larry Johnston and Renn Nolan to volunteer for worthy organizations in Mono County. I cannot imagine how much money this would save the County if these three people just took their retirement, health benefits for themselves and their families, their continuing retirement and cadillac health contributions, gasoline, travel and mileage allowances, etc. and retired them instead of continuing to dine at the public trough.
These three may be great people, but don’t we want a different perspective from the people who execute public policy for Mono County?
Out here in the field
I did want to provide accurate information regarding police numbers that are actually in the field as opposed to what was represented from the dais at the last council meeting. We staff 84 shifts per month (actually we schedule 4 weeks at a time) and here’s a tracking of last month’s actual staffing in the field.
DAY WATCH – 28 TOTAL SHIFTS:
9 shifts had one person scheduled requiring someone come in on OT, or fill-in from either the SRO position or the Traffic Assignment
11 shifts had two officers scheduled (SRO was the second unit in the field 8 times)
8 shifts had 3 officers scheduled (this includes the SRO 5 times)
SWING SHIFT – 28 TOTAL SHIFTS:
3 shifts had one person scheduled requiring OT
22 shifts had two persons scheduled
3 shifts had 3 persons scheduled
GRAVEYARD – 28 TOTAL SHIFTS:
6 shifts had one person scheduled requiring OT
17 shifts had 2 persons scheduled
5 shifts had 3 persons scheduled
The above numbers include both sergeants and patrol officers, there are no staffing numbers omitted. I have copies of each officer that was on duty each and every day. We have 3 sergeants who cover 12 of the 21 shifts per week. Or, 48 of the 84 shifts will include a sergeant, assuming none of them are vacationing, sick, training, etc. They are now and have always been included in our staffing numbers as reported.
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief