Or, how creative will Council choose to get with Measure R
The Town of Mammoth Lakes is on a self-proclaimed slippery slope. At this week’s regular Town Council meeting, Council agreed to open discussions with the Recreation Commission to create a definition for the Town as to what is, and is not considered “supplanting” in relation to what trails, parks and recreation projects can receive Measure R funds.
“It’s a razor’s edge and I don’t know [the answer], but I’m willing to talk about it,” Council member Rick Wood said.
In the Measure R ordinance, approved by voters in June 2008, it states that the tax proceeds would be applied only to “planning, construction, operation, maintenance, programming and administration of all trails, parks and recreation facilities managed by the Town of Mammoth Lakes without supplanting existing parks and recreation facility maintenance funds.”
However, section 15 of the ordinance says, “The Expenditure Plan may be amended from time to time by a majority vote of the City Council, so long as the funds are utilized for Recreation, Trails and Parks funding.”
The question on the table is whether or not it would be supplanting to complete projects already in the works that were expected to be completed by other funding sources that did not come through.
For example, Trails End Park was supposed to be finished with Developer Impact Fees, or DIF. Since DIF has dried up for an indeterminate length of time, could Measure R now be used to help complete that project if, once complete, the responsibility for maintenance of the project be returned to the Town’s General Fund?
The Measure R Fall Funding Cycle opened on Sept. 10 and applications are due Oct. 8, so, according to Recreation Commission Chair Bill Sauser, “applicants will be applicants regardless of supplanting,” since the Council and the Commission will not be able to nail down an answer until after the application period closes. The two parties do, however hope to come to a decision before the awards come to Town Council for approval on Dec. 1.
Therefore, Council approved option three in the agenda bill, which signs off on the Fall Project Filter and Checklist, as well as the 2010 Measure R Fall Cycle Timeline, but gives local pols more time to discuss the supplanting issue.
“I don’t want to be in a process-paralysis mode, if we don’t get it right now, we’ll get it right next year,” Wood said in regard to keeping the award cycle moving this fall.
Council will hold a special workshop with the Recreation Commission meeting on Oct. 20 to discuss the supplanting issue.
In other Measure R-related activity, the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation asked Council to commit $100,000 to the organization to support the development and implementation of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System (MLTS).
The $100,000 is just one component of a $700,000 funding request by MLTPA to be implemented over a two-year period ($350,000 each year). By asking the Council for a $100,000 commitment this year, MLTPA would then apply for $250,000 from the 2010 Measure R Fall Funding Cycle to make up the difference.
Council was appreciative of MLTPA’s effort with the MLTS thus far, and agreed that a tremendous amount of momentum was underway with the work that has already been completed, such as the first segment of the Lakes Basin Bike Path.
“We are looking for an opportunity to continue the momentum,” said the Town’s Public Works Director Ray Jarvis, who stated it was staff’s desire to have external help with the MLTS from MLTPA.
“We are now in implementation mode,” said MLTPA Executive Director John Wentworth regarding the MLTS. “Now is not the time to be silly.”
Wentworth claimed that the MLTS would be the town’s “product for visitation.” He added that 170 signs are expected to be put in the ground and the Draft Trail System Master Plan is expected to be approved next summer. Approval of the Plan will open the door to many other projects.
“This is one of those programs that is an investment,” Council member Matthew Lehman said.
“I wish to continue the momentum and am totally on board,” added Council member John Eastman.
Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon, while supportive, was hesitant to name a price. “I want to know what the money would be spent on before choosing how much,” she said in regard to the lack of a scope of work at this time. Bacon also commented that if this commitment were made the Council’s discretionary “wait and see” fund would already be overspent just one short meeting after Council had decided to create one.
According to the agenda, $370,000 of the discretionary fund has been allocated to air service revenue guarantee; $25,000 has been proposed or committed to the High Sierra Energy Foundation; $5,000-$30,000 has been proposed for the ice rink security fence (depending upon the amount covered by Measure R), and earlier in the meeting Council had approved $19,000 from the discretionary fund to cover TSA Security Requirements the airport was incurring from going to year-round status. This leaves between $50,000 and $75,848 in the account. The agenda bill went on to say that “the TOT projection upon which this is based is extremely conservative, and July revenues have come in much stronger than expected.” Town Manger Rob Clark confirmed this during the General Fund Revenue update later in the evening.
Wentworth claimed that the Council’s verbal commitment and adoption of the resolution was all he needed that evening.
“MLTPA is good until December so cash flow can be a component,” he said. “But the Recreation Commission is going to need direction from Council [when awarding Measure R dollars].”
Council approved the resolution 4-0. Council members Wood and Bacon will work with staff and the Recreation Commission to help negotiate a contract with MLTPA.