From the Hispanic Town Hall Meeting Wednesday: MLPD Chief Dan Watson is as exciting in translation as he is in his native language.
“Is it getting better/Or do you feel the same?” -Bono
If only the Town’s budget woes could remain the same.
A special Town budget meeting Wednesday revealed that the Town has to cut spending by an extra $700,000 to balance its 2011-2012 budget.
So instead of looking for $2 million in cuts, we’re looking for $2.7 million.
Turns out some line items, like the Town’s share of the commercial air service subsidy and the temporary “Sprung” structure needed at the airport to help accomodate that air service, were only budgeted at one-third of actual cost in the draft budget. A small $300,000 accounting error.
On the bright side, at least someone’s catching these errors two weeks later as opposed to two years.
Again, MMMartinez reaffirmed we have a “structural shortfall” requiring “permanent adjustments.”
“This is the new normal,” she said.
In attendance were, for the most part, Town Councilmembers and Senior Staff. And after MMMartinez’s presentation, the rest of the meeting was spent talking about all sorts of necessary things that couldn’t possibly be cut.
One topic of discussion was the Town’s commitment to the air service subsidy, as the Town’s contract with MMSA expires in June.
Councilmember Jo Bacon did remind the group that even though a contract is not in place, the Town has made a commitment to fund one-third of the subsidy going forward.
Recreation Commissioner Teri Stehlik supports the subsidy, saying “the airport puts us on the map as a destination.”
Developer Chuck Lande, who is working on a hotel deal for Snowcreek, said, “The first question I hear from hotel operators is about air service.”
Mayor Skip Harvey, in speaking for Council, said, “We are in agreement as to the value of air service.”
So where are the savings going to come from? Well, for starters, MMMartinez is hoping for $500,000 in employee concessions, $500,000 in yet another deferral of road maintenance. Then there’s another $600,000 in fund balances in the workforce housing and transit funds which seem ripe for plunder.
Use it or lose it, right?
At this juncture, it appears the “political commitments” made to housing and transit in Measures A & T are now history. As you may recall, these tax measures were passed based upon political commitments by Council to spend the funds in specific areas. Unlike Measures R & U, however, they were not passed by two-thirds majorities. They were passed as general taxes with promises attached. Kirk Stapp always bragged about how the Town had never reneged on a political commitment.
Ha! Consider those promises broken.
MMMartinez has asked that each Town department cut its budget by 10%.
The Sheet asked Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson how he intended to shed 10% (or $450,000) from his department.
The meeting adjourned and went into closed session thirty seconds later. As you can imagine, the question went unanswered.
Word is the Mammoth Lakes Police Officers Assn. (MLPOA) has no interest in negotiating one penny of concessions.
As MMMartinez said, “We either get concessions … or go to layoffs.”
Or a third option, of course. The Town’s famous for buying employees into early retirements and just kicking the can down the road.
Council must be kicking itself for agreeing to the labor “concessions” negotiated by former Town Manager Rob Clark when the recession began.
Part of the condition of the Town furloughs was an extension of union contracts ‘til 2014. Rob Clark is the just the gift that keeps on giving. He’s the Everlasting Gobstopping Taxeater.
One place where The Sheet could see saving a cool half-million is by disbanding the Public Arts Commission and liquidating its dedicated funding so it can’t go through with its welcome sign and putting Elizabeth Tenney under house arrest so she can’t divert money to her welcome monument. Or, if she must, she’s got to attach her phone number to it.
“Welcome to Mammoth. If we’re on furlough today, please call Elizabeth for any services.”
Mammoth Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles was at the Mammoth Lakes Chamber luncheon on Tuesday. Though more known for his work with bears, what Searles is most concerned about at the moment are deer. In recent weeks, collisions have claimed numerous deer, and injured several motorists. The deer, he said, are feeding along the roadsides, especially U.S. 395, which is where the best grass is found, at least until more grows into meadows and other more remote regions. He advised putting deer whistles on cars, cleaning and aligning headlights and windshields, and of course driving slower and with caution.
Things we learned at the Hispanic Advisory Group’s Town Hall meeting:
The Hispanic Advisory Committee put together its first Town Hall meeting on Wednesday night. A large turnout showed at the Emerald Room at the Village, and attendees, both Spanish and English-speaking were given translation headsets. Half of the presentations were given in Spanish and half in English. If you wore the headset whenever the presentation was in the language you did not understand, you could hear the translator standing in the back of the room.
The keynote speaker was Alejandro Solorio from the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento. Solorio spoke in Spanish and encouraged the group to learn English and the rules of the country. He also pointed out, rather casually, that they shouldn’t beat their wives.
Many of the questions during the open Q & A forum centered around vehicles being towed and ticketed. Chief Dan Watson, who said at the beginning of the meeting that the purpose of the night was to begin to build a bridge that has been missing in the community, explained that if the cars are not registered and the owners are illegally here, then the cars will be towed. Watson encouraged the group to use public transportation.
Redistricting Committee Meeting Schedule
The Mono County Redistricting Committee, established by the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, held its first meeting on May 16 to establish its methodology for balancing the county’s five supervisorial districts per the new 2010 Census totals.
The remaining meetings are from 6-9 p.m. as follows: June 1 at the June Lake Community Center; June 13 at the Benton Community Center; June 15 at the Bridgeport Memorial Hall; June 20 at Suite Z in Minaret Village Mall, Mammoth Lakes; June 22 at the Crowley Lake Community Center; June 27 at the Walker Community Center; and June 29, location TBD, but probably in Suite Z, Mammoth Lakes. More meetings may be set during the first part of July as well.