The Mono County Housing Authority, made up of the Mono County Board of Supervisors, held its annual meeting on Tuesday with two topics generating the most noise.
The first was Mono County’s rental housing program. The County only has three units, which are all currently occupied.
Supervisor Larry Johnston was concerned that management of the units was “sucking the profits.”
“These units should be significant moneymakers for the county,” Johnston continued. “Each home has been totally rehabilitated to the tune of about $50,000 each, and they’re in great shape.”
Johnston was disappointed that a breakdown of how the rent collected was then spent within in the county. This breakdown was not included in the agenda packet and Johnston asked staff to supply a report of where the money was going.
“We should look at Mammoth Lakes Housing’s management if we need help,” he concluded.
His fellow supervisors, however, did not necessarily see the same benefit of the rental housing.
“Why are we in rentals anyway?” asked Supervisor Byng Hunt. “We kind of slid into this.”
One option, according to County staff Mary Booher could be to sell the units, as there is already interest in one of them.
Another option, according to Supervisor Hap Hazard could be to turn the units in Benton into County offices.
“The long-term stability of the Eastern Sierra Unified School District could affect the residents of those units,” Hazard said.
At least one of the Benton renters is a teacher at High Desert Academy. On Wednesday, April 18 the ESUSD Board voted to dismiss 4.5 teaching positions within ESUSD, according to ESUSD Superintendent Don Clark. Two of those positions were teachers at High Desert Academy. The dismissal of those positions effectively closes the high school.
The Board left the issue on the table for the time being.
The second hot topic was whether or not the old Sheriff’s Substation where Mammoth Dog Teams is currently housed should be converted into County workforce housing.
Johnston, who believed the building could house two workforce housing units and a storage area without much need for renovation, suggested the idea.
Johnston pointed to the $237,000 in available housing funds as a pool of money that could be used to rehab the building.
Supervisor Hazard, however, had a difficult time seeing it as viable. He believed the $237,000 might be better used as employee down payment assistance but did ask staff to put together some numbers on just how much it would cost to rehab the substation.
“It’s not that it can’t be done, but it would be expensive,” explained County Director of Facilities and Risk Management Rita Sherman.
“Isn’t the county salvaging something similar in Bridgeport,” asked Johnston.
“It’s in better shape than this,” Sherman said.
Water and asbestos are at least two issues that would have to be fully addressed before a project such as this could move forward.