With Scott McGuire departing his position as an at-large member on the Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board, that same board took up the question of who will be McGuire’s replacement at MLTs board meeting Wednesday.
Two individuals have expressed interest and applied for the seat, Barbara Maynard, Owner of ActNowStrategies and Pat Foster, President of Hot Creek Aviation.
MLT’s nominating committee, consisting of Chair John Morris, Secretary Jeremy Goico, and Treasurer Rhonda Duggan, put forth their thoughts on the candidate list, with Morris and Goico supporting Foster, while Duggan supported Maynard.
Duggan’s logic for supporting Maynard rested in a) her ideas and prior board experience and b) MLT bylaws that dictate that this specific at large seat be filled by a resident of “the Mammoth Lakes area” and hold a business license in Mammoth Lakes. Under Duggan’s interpretation, the bylaws make Foster ineligible for the seat.
For Morris and Goico, the feeling was that Foster’s longevity in the community, attendance at MLT meetings, and Foster’s connections to air service and Bishop make him a potentially valuable asset to the board.
In regard to Duggan’s concerns about the bylaws, Goico and Morris believe the bylaws could interpret Bishop as “Mammoth Lakes area” and that Foster’s lack of a business license didn’t mean much as he acts as president of a local company.
McGuire expressed an interest in amending the bylaws to clear up any confusion on the matter and tighten up definitions, an action that fellow boardmember Lynda Salcido agreed with.
Goico took issue with this, recalling a conversation between himself, Salcido, and McGuire that concluded with an agreement to leave those specific bylaws as written. Salcido claimed to not remember the conversation in question while McGuire explained that the conversation had happened while Town Councilmember Cleland Hoff was still on the MLT board.
“I find it somewhat problematic that we would amend our bylaws to bring somebody on,” Goico said, “that kind of has red flag all over it when I have no problem with the way it’s written right now.”
The board ultimately opted to form a committee to tighten up the bylaws.
And the hits just kept coming
Executive Director John Urdi gave a presentation on MLT’s FY 2020-2021 fiscal and strategy plan, outlining steps that the organization is taking to get back online as quickly as possible while the economy reopens.
Urdi explained that marketing efforts would be primarily focused on the drive markets (i.e. within California or Nevada) as travelers have reported a decreased interest in air travel as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. After that, they will seek to re-establish destination tourism by first targeting the west coast and then the rest of the country by fall.
The economic downturn has severely impacted MLT’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, as the majority of its money comes from tourism-related tax revenue.
The anticipated revenue for MLT in FY 2020-2021 is 30% to 40% lower than projections made for 2019-2020.
Urdi proposed that one way to reduce the non-profit’s deficit would be by asking Town Council to use joint tourism reserve money to fund the Chamber of Commerce, an ask in the neighborhood of $260,000.
The board disagreed, with Salcido noting Urdi “should be able to find that in MLT’s budget.”
Air service funding also proved contentious, as Urdi advocated for cutting the funding town while Mammoth Mountain Vice-President (and board member) Eric Clark argued in favor of not only keeping existing air service, but aggressively expanding marketing efforts to the Northeast (where Alterra has a slew of resorts and customers that may wish to visit).
The difference in their rsepectiove visions amounts to about $1.5 million.
“I want to protect and not pigeonhole service”, Clark explained, recommending that the extra expenditures can be covered by MLT reserves.
“What it comes down to,” Urdi said, “is what are we anticipating for winter air service?” He added that the reduction in funding was an attempt to limit risk.
Clark disagreed, arguing that Denver service is “imperative to keep,” adding “there’s info out there that they don’t wanna fly through LA, New York, they would rather fly thru different hubs.”
“It’s a really important issue for me, we are focused on the air service through this entity,” he said. “It hasn’t been anything that we’re trying to hide.”
McGuire expressed concern about the logic of paying Measure A dollars to help something (Bishop Airport) that lies outside of the Mammoth Lakes region, noting that it could constitute a violation.
Urdi responded, stating that MLT is responsible for air service, not the physical infrastructure of the proposed airport in Bishop.
The meeting adjourned at 4 p.m. ahead of a 4:30 p.m. Town Council meeting and will readjourn on Monday, June 8th at 1 p.m. to conclude deliberations and vote on the budget.