IMACA IN DEEP CACA
IMACA (Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action, a local nonprofit which provides social services ranging from child care to energy assistance to food banks, announced this week that it would have to lay off seven, offload services and beg for emergency cash infusions in order to survive.
IMACA has made an emergency request for $100,000 to each of the following government entities: Town of Mammoth, City of Bishop, Mono County and Inyo County.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes fielded the request as an urgency item at its regular meeeting held via Zoom on February 16.
The following letter was sent to Council on February 15 by IMACA’s Executive Director Kate Morley, who has served in the position just five months.
Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action is facing a fiscal crisis and urgently seeking funding that will allow the organization to continue providing needed public services to economically vulnerable community members. IMACA is working quickly to determine what programs we have the funding and capacity to continue to implement directly and which programs can be transferred to other communiuty partners.
While IMACA has left no stone unturned in working to avoid the current situation, given the severity of our cash flow crisis, it will be necessary to close down some programs. Clearly, maintaining programs and handing off programs in an orderly fashion are the most preferable outcomes, but IMACA needs additional funds beyond what we currently have available to be able to do so. Despite contract advances that have proved a lifeline for us recently, IMACA could easily run out of funds for programs and staff payroll by mid-March without a substantial additional cash infusion. IMACA is reaching out to a wide range of partners for funding support, with the dual intent of continuing to provide vital continuity of services … as well as allowing for additional time to relocate programs.
She then asks for $100,000.
At Council, Morley alluded to a defaulted loan on the books for the Valley Apartments as a financial drag, but she did not go into detail.
Morley said, “When I walked in here, I knew there were financial challenges.” Given current circumstances, that could qualify as understatement of the year.
The Sheet learned afterward that IMACA’s Controller left in December. Which is convenient.
In terms of services, it appears IMACA will unload its preschools and childcare programs to the respective Offices of Education in Inyo and Mono Counties.
The housing and homelessness components will be handed off to Inyo County’s Department of Health and Human Services as well as Mammoth Lakes Housing.
IMACA would like to hold onto its weatherization, energy assistance and food bank programs.
Weatherization is a federal anti-poverty program that helps those with lesser means to insulate their homes. Energy assistance involves direct help with bills.
IMACA board member Jeff Griffiths attributes a lot of the non-profit’s issues to simply saying ‘yes’ too much. And to reimbursement margins for the services provided being razor thin.
Mammoth Lakes Housing Executive Director Patricia Robertson noted that “we have clients in transitiional housing who are nervous [about the IMACA situation].”
Mammoth Town Council unanimously voted to approve $100,000 in emergency funding.
A Bishop Councilmember whom we spoke to Wednesday said he/she wishes to have a bit more information on the bookkeeping side before voting for a similar approval.
Attempts to reach Ms. Morley for additional comment were unsuccessful.
Is anybody home?
One thing that’s increasingly come up in recent years has been a tendency for local elected officials to move away before their terms of office have been completed.
Now this isn’t, as I’ve discovered, illegal. A lot of it depends upon intent (which we’ll get to). But with remote work being so easy these days, and with local boards taking advantage of the Covid loophole to avoid meeting in person, it’s become a concern.
After all, do you want to be represented by a person who is increasingly unfamiliar with what’s happening in his/her region or district?
And … as taxpayers, are we really eager to send our resources, in the form of wages and benefits, out to other communities when we assumed those wages and benefits would be spent and circulated locally.
In Inyo County, Supervisor Mark Tillemans moved his family to Washington state about a year before his term expired. And Sheriff Jeff Hollowell, after deciding to sue his constituents (Inyo County), moved to Idaho before submitting his resignation.
I spoke with two officials over the past few weeks who are no longer living here full-time, but remain in their positions.
They made compelling cases as to why they should remain in their positions until their terms expire.
District Attorney Tim Kendall plans to fulfill his term. He is not planning to run for reelection.
While he sold his home in Bridgeport in July, 2021, he then rented a small home which he will maintain until his term expires.
Kendall’s wife Shannon has moved to Texas.
Kendall will split time between Texas and Bridgeport through the November election.
He says he took a fair amount of time off in January to help with the move. But this is time off he’s already accrued. And after 25 years of service in Mono County (13 as Asst. D.A. and 12 as D.A.), he’s got a ton of vacation/personal time to use.
He acknowledges that Covid/Zoom opens a potential Pandora’s Box, where folks may take advantage of virtual communication to serve as an officeholder while they no longer actually live in that county/district, but Kendall vows to spend more than half his time in Bridgeport to finish out his term. “The last thing I want to do is leave on a bad note.”
He promises to fulfill his sworn responsibilities, and to help a new D.A. transition into the job. He described Assistant D.A. Dave Anderson, who plans to run for the top job, as a “good attorney and fair.”
Robert Creasy serves as a board member of the Mammoth Community Water District, and says he consulted with the District’s attorney before he and his family moved to Colorado 18 months ago.
Creasy explained that the legal determination of one’s domicile is not necessarily driven by where you are.
A lot of it is about intent.
Creasy and wife Jennifer Holmes moved to Colorado for school options and for son Cyrus to continue nordic ski racing.
He says he doesn’t know whether or not the family will remain in Colorado for good. A lot of it depends upon where his daughter Lila attends high school.
“I consider Mammoth Lakes to be my domicile even if the majority of my time is currently being spent in Colorado. I own a home there, declare my federal property tax exemption in California … all my work is in Mammoth (Robert is an architect). My driver’s license is California. I’m registered to vote in California.
Creasy says he’s back in Mammoth every 4-6 weeks, has attended every single meeting, serves on three subcommittees and reads through the board packet cover-to-cover.
“I feel it is my responsibility to serve out my term. It would certainly be easier to quit. And in terms of compensation, I make less money as a MCWD board member than I do as an architect.
If we return to in-seat boards meetings, I’ll be there,” he said.
Finally, a related note/observation from a local government department head: I have openings to fill, but a lot of people who are applying don’t live here and wish to work remotely. We’d prefer to employ people who live in-county as that keeps the money we’re paying out in the local community. But if we can’t find people who want to live and work here, something’s gotta give.”