A healthy counterbalance
It was disappointing to read the recent article concerning the BID proposal by Mr. Gregory. What we need as a community right now is not a raise in taxes to offer more marketing, but rather an alternative vision for the town as a whole. Increasing our amount of marketing to the one percent of economical elite reflects a continued lack of imagination and commitment to a form of exploitative economics that is ultimately unsustainable. Unsustainable in part because it’s committed to orienting everything upon the ski resort and its immediately vested interests, and hence why it’s a wise proposal for Mr. Gregory and the mountain.
In contrast, I would make the humble suggestion that we begin to study cities like Bend, Oregon as a healthy counterbalance. Where they have fit the ski resort into a larger scheme vision, and then creatively begin to see how we can make the town more accessible for commerce, not just the ski resort. Very similar to the way Bend had to remodel itself in the post-mill era. I have no idea about the background surrounding Mammoth Brewing deciding to build their marquee restaurant/tasting room in Bishop, but as a town, that is the kind of business that we could either help make into a Deschutes Brewery, or we unconsciously fight to keep it the kind of size that perpetuates what we currently have: a town with very little sustainable diversity.
The Mammoth Gateway Project is an incredible community effort.
Mono County donated the land. Over 250 individuals, businesses and agencies donated funds and significant in-kind support. Town Council’s strategic and visionary decision dedicating substantial Public Art Fund money to the Gateway made the critical difference in the project’s success. (The Public Art Fund, fees paid by commercial developers which can only be used for public art, is not part of the Town’s General Fund.)
Crews from Mammoth Mountain, Snowcreek and Whitmore Masonry are working as fast as possible to complete the huge project. When finished, our new entrance will announce, “Welcome, visitors! Mammoth is moving forward and investing in the future!”
Mammoth Gateway Community Project
As the leader in exploring the TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) I know there have been many questions surrounding the program and I wanted to give our community a true sense of what this is all about and what it entails.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT) has been researching the possibility of a TBID for more than two years as a way of securing marketing funds outside of town government. The discussion has not come up because of the MLLA lawsuit settlement or at the directive of Mammoth Mountain, but because we are a tourism-based community and our businesses rely on guest visitation.
The TBID would be an additional source of marketing funding and would be secure and dedicated to marketing efforts. These funds would never end up in the town’s General Fund. MLT’s current funding (2.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax) does in fact go into the general fund prior to being paid to MLT for use in marketing our area. This would also mean that the TBID funds would not be at risk of cuts when the town is faced with adversity.
Since its inception, Mammoth Lakes Tourism has looked for ways to increase funding for marketing efforts and the TBID model is one that has proven successful across the State in other resort areas such as; Napa Valley, South Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara and others.
What is a TBID?
A TBID is a self assessment (not a tax) that businesses put in place to raise funds for a variety of reasons – mainly to increase marketing and promotion of an area. Right now we are exploring the following business segments to be included in a local TBID; lodging, restaurants, retail and possibly Mammoth Mountain lift tickets. This is NOT a tax. The assessment can be paid by the business or can be passed along to the guests of that business. It is important to note that a 1% TBID assessment is equal to just $1 on every $100 charged. There are currently 67 TBIDS in California.
What businesses are involved?
While many would argue that ALL businesses in Mammoth Lakes are reliant on visitors for the majority of their business, the TBID would focus on lodging, restaurants and retail. In the retail segment, gas stations, supermarkets and services would not be included as that would burden local residents. For those businesses who feel they have been wrongly included because the majority of their business is NOT visitor based, there will be an appeal process.
How does a TBID get voted on?
The actual businesses that will be responsible for paying the assessment have to petition to approve it; this is not a public vote. The businesses vote (petition) is based on the percentage of the total assessment they will be contribute and once more than 50% is achieved the BID is formed and all businesses in that segment participate. Our goal is to have 90% of the businesses petition for the TBID.
Is this an MMSA program?
No. Mammoth Mountain has just recently joined the conversation with the possibility of adding a “Lift Ticket” component to the TBID which could add between $1.3m to $1.5m to the total funds being raised to promote the entire area. While MMSA is willing to participate, this is not a “Rusty Plan” as has been mentioned. Mammoth Mountain has a seat on the MLT board currently and would continue to support our efforts and assist with direction but in no way would MMSA dictate how the monies raised by the TBID are spent.
What will the funding be used for?
The funds raised would be used to increase our marketing exposure through community wide branding and marketing efforts. Our goal is to have all businesses working together to enhance the marketing that MLT currently does and assist in attracting future guests.
It may also support air service marketing and subsidy and lodging properties may have access to airline tickets during “need” times (Say May 1-June 30) where they can offer 2-for-1 airfare or even “Fly FREE!” promotions for people staying three nights or more. These tickets are not free but the marketing dollars could be used to purchase those seats in order to attract visitors during off-peak times.
Who will oversee the TBID?
The Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board of Directors, made up of representatives from lodging, retail, restaurant, MMSA, Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, will be very involved in the decisions of how this funding is best spent. No one business, or business segment, will control the conversation.
What is marketing’s impact?
A recent return on investment (ROI) study done by Leisure Trends, Inc. out of Boulder Colorado shows that for every dollar MLT invests in marketing, visitors spend $136.13 at our local businesses and $4.02 goes back to the town in the form of tax revenue. It is also worth noting that more than 73% of the town’s general operating fund comes from our visitors in the form of TOT and sales tax.
Will the Town still fund MLT?
Yes. Existing “Measure A” funds, voted in by the community, will continue to be used to attract visitors to our area. The TBID funding is meant to enhance existing Measure A funding.
What is the time frame for the TBID?
We would like to see implementation of the BID by May 1, 2013 after a thorough public process.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism