To the Editor:
At the October 5 Town Council meeting, Sandy Hogan spoke during public comment on the current and proposed funding for the Mammoth Lakes Trail System and the uses of that money. Ms. Hogan made several points, which we would like to respond to here.
Perhaps her most important point is that Measure R and General Fund money going to the trail system is public money and that the public should scrutinize where that money is being spent to assure that it is being properly managed and that the public is getting value for its investment.
The Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA) fully supports this. The Town’s limited resources should be properly husbanded to provide the greatest benefit to the public. The trail-system work to date has been proposed in support of policies and programs identified in the General Plan and the Trail System Master Plan (both existing and draft). The entire process has been conducted in the public arena, with proposals having been vetted through the Recreation Commission and the Town Council.
As the primary contractor providing support to the Mammoth Lakes Trail System, MLTPA has endeavored to provide the highest level of transparency and accountability for its use of Measure R and General Fund resources. Proper stewardship of these funds is a top priority for MLTPA. MLTPA’s efforts in this area have included detailed bi-weekly meetings with Town staff, quarterly reports to the Recreation Commission, updates to the Town Council, and full report postings on the MLTPA website. We encourage everyone who is interested to review the reports and to participate in the decision-making process.
Ms. Hogan’s arithmetic was incorrect when it comes to MLTPA staff compensation. The rates that MLTPA charges are billing rates that include all direct costs and related overhead. These rates are based on federal Office of Management and Budget guidelines for nonprofit cost allocation and include only costs considered eligible by those guidelines. Additional costs have been covered through private donations, grants, and volunteer time. MLTPA’s billing rates are lower—in some cases by a factor of more than half—than other comparably skilled and committed contractors hired by the Town. They are also significantly lower than those paid by other local agencies for comparable contract work.
MLTPA is excited about the successes achieved to date, including the passage of measures R and U and the pending adoption of the Trail System Master Plan (TSMP). The adopted TSMP will allow the Town to move forward with the full implementation of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System. While MLTPA is not solely responsible for these successes, they would not have happened without MLTPA’s leadership and the commitment of our resources. We look forward to a continued successful partnership between the Town, the Inyo National Forest, and MLTPA in bringing to life the Mammoth Lakes Trail System and outdoor-recreation experiences that are unequalled anywhere.
We would also like to invite the public to join us at the Westin Monache Resort on Saturday, October 22,, at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the adoption of the TSMP, the culmination of a four-year effort on the part of MLTPA and the community to create a 21st-century vision for trail-based recreation in Mammoth Lakes.
The Board of Directors of the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation