On Monday evening, the entire cast of candidates running for seats on the Mono County Board of Supervisors gathered in Suite Z in Mammoth for a Candidates Forum hosted by the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber President Brent Truax moderated the event and the public was encouraged to submit questions for the candidates.
Several hot button items, such as air service subsidy and the Bodie Hills WSA were raised. Questions also revolved around Mammoth’s current financial challenges (i.e. the MLLA settlement).
Candidates Fesko, Peters and Stump agreed that Mammoth is the economic engine of the County, and the Board should help the Town.
“A healthy Mammoth is a healthy County,” Fesko said.
Hazard and Bauer did not disagree but claimed that the Town needed to take the first steps toward solving its problems. The two current supervisors also pointed to consolidation of services as a top solution for the financial issues.
A fresh question asked on Monday evening was whether or not the candidates, if elected, would be willing to sit down and discuss the current property tax distribution agreement with the Town.
According to County Finance Director Brian Muir, the Town proper receives 4-5% of property taxes collected, but he added, if you look at the Town as a whole and what entities such as the school district, the water district and the fire district are receiving, the Town actually receives 42-43%.
Tim Alpers: I’d be hard pressed to change it, but I wouldn’t close my mind to a discussion. We should look at combination of services first.
Jan Huggans: I’d be willing to discuss it. It may be necessary to sit down [and have the discussion] depending on what happens.
Tim Fesko: The short answer is yes. We have to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
Bob Peters: You can’t just say yes. We can’t talk about the property tax split on its own. We have to look at the County services provided to the Town as well.
Fred Stump: For a mutual benefit, yes I would have the discussion.
Hap Hazard: Reality check – I would sit down for the discussion but there is no obligation on the County’s part to give any property tax back to the Town. That was decided with the Town’s incorporation. The Town has the flexibility to do other things like raise sales tax.
Vikki Bauer: I’d be willing to talk about it, but we’re asking the wrong question. We need to figure out how to grow the entire pie because it’s shrinking for both of us [Town and County].
See more about the candidates in upcoming issues of The Sheet and don’t forget to vote on June 5.