Stick with me here, because this is a stretch.
Seeing as Magilla Gorilla (MMSA) just hired Forsell as its Chief Marketing Officer and Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive director John Urdi has recently been mentioned in these pages in the same breath as Hong Kong Phooey, are we lining ourselves up as the Hanna Barberians, conquering marauders of marketing and the team to beat at the Laff-A-Lympics?
Or is the TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) just a Really Rotten idea?
I am sure of one thing. The Scoobie Doobies are too stoned to care.
When I called MMSA to get Erik Forsell’s cellphone number for an interview (the press release announcing his hire appears on page seven), I was told that Forsell was unavailable for interviews at this time so I would have to go through CEO Rusty Gregory.
I texted Gregory the following: “Want to talk to Forsell but was told you’re handling his p.r. … what good is a marketing guy who can’t handle his own p.r.? Great last name, however.”
MMSA, unfortunately, is smart enough to know that what I really wanted was to catch Forsell off-guard before he joined the machine.
Gregory said that he’s been conferring with outgoing CMO Howard Pickett since January to seek a successor. “It’s the right time for Howard and the company to transition,” said Gregory.
At ASICS, Forsell oversaw a $60 million marketing budget connected to a $1 billion operation (in the Americas).
Pickett became the second upper level manager at MMSA to depart recently. Bob Peckenpaugh recently left to run the Omni Hotel in San Francisco.
In regard to the TBID, I should clear up one misperception.
I received an anonymous letter from a group or person calling itself Mammoth Lakes Citizens for Responsible Government. In that letter, there was a passage quoted from the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, which reads:
“…The amount of assessment attributable to property or a business owned by the same property or business owner that is in excess of 40 percent of the amount of all assessments proposed to be levied, shall not be included in determining whether the petition is signed by property or business owners who will pay more than 50 percent of the total amount of assessments proposed to be levied.”
The letter writer interpreted the language to mean that the owner in excess of 40% shall not be included in the vote.
Clever, but the letter writer appears to be selectively inventing his own modifiers.
As the Town’s Consultant in this matter, John Lambeth of Civitas replies, “The Law provides that the amount in excess of 40% will not be counted, not that the petition will not be counted. The author of the flyer misread the Law.”
He adds, “The Law effectively “limit[s] the weight percentage” of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s “vote”, by setting a cap on a single business owner’s voting power. For example, if any given business owner is in excess of 51 percent of the amount of all assessments proposed to be levied, he or she would possess a majority. The provisions of the Law ensure that no single business owner can solely pass a petition drive.”
One thing the Mammoth Lakes Citizens for Responsible Government could take issue with is the list of 71 businesses that are listed as having voted for the TBID.
Sierra Nevada Lodge, Jimmy’s Taverna, Red Lantern and Rafters are listed as separate businesses, though all are under the control of one voter. Likewise, Mammoth Mountain has about 10 different businesses on the list.
I have received about a call a day from various folks who oppose the measure but feel they have no power to oppose it. Said one small businessman, “The people who want this are the people who don’t have to be there [at their place of business manning the register] every day.”
The Sheet did a little research this week, and one item from the www.californiataxdata.com website stood out.
In its analysis, californiataxdata.com stated, “A BID may assess property according to zones of benefit, in relation to the benefit being received by businesses within each zone.”
In other words, if much of the money being raised goes to airline subsidies, one could argue that the retail and restaurant business owner on Old Mammoth Road or Main Street stands to gain a lot less than the business owner in the North Village corridor.
In other words, should everyone be taxed the same? Will the marketing dollars benefit all participants equally?
The other article I found interesting was from the Public Law Journal, written by Rebecca Olson and Lacey Keys.
The key points:
1.) The BID must confer a special benefit on the assessed properties over and above those conferred on all properties in the district or on the public at large.
2.) Each parcel may only be assessed an amount proportional to the special benefit it receives.
The article also states that Proposition 218, passed in 1996 to “stop perceived abuses in the use of assessments … expressly does not exempt from assessment properties owned or used by local, state or federal government.”
This would appear to indicate that Whitmore Pool and the Mammoth Ice Rink should be subject to tax.
I don’t know where I’m going here other than to point out that there may be a few details to work out. Perhaps the structure of the TBID may need tweaking.