The time is nigh for Mammoth’s TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) renewal. And it isn’t a question of if so much as how long.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism wants a ten-year renewal.
It appears Mammoth’s Town Council will settle on five.
Four Councilmembers said they support a five-year renewal, though once MLT Executive Director John Urdi pointed out the renewal has been a $250,000, 13-month process, Sarah Rea appeared to soften and think maybe ten years is a good idea.
Local businessman Tom Cage, however, pointed out elections occur every two years, and the water district reviews rates every five years. He said goals and needs change rapidly, so five years is about right.
Cage did have issue with a TBID mailer MLT sent out. He thought it should have been a more comprehensive solicitation for input and represented a missed opportunity.
The mailer essentially advised: vote for a ten-year rental or don’t sign.
Local businesswoman Dawn Vereuck added that there’s more burnout than happiness over the relentless visitation and said “We need more balance.” And she also said, we are all payers of TBID. This is too often forgotten. Businesses are the collectors of it.
While Cage and Vereuck (and Alisa Mokler Harper) spoke from the business community,
Emily Bryant was one of several MLT staffers in the audience. She spoke as a “private citizen” (whose job is predicated upon TBID) and told a story illustrating how local business has grown since she arrived in 2013. Her fellow taxeaters at MLT gave her a round of applause after her speech. Mayor John Wentworth encouraged the cheers. He said it was crucial the TBID renewal inspire confidence.
Mammoth Resorts CEO Ron Cohen suggested that the Town’s Measure A commitment to marketing should be changed and lowered.
He also claimed that the TBID is not a tax.
MLT’s TBID consultant John Lambeth said some cities have authorized 40-year renewals/ terms for their TBIDs.
But that was Wednesday evening at Council’s regular meeting in Suite Z.
Earlier that day, Pike attended the MLT Board meeting in the same location.
There’s just something about people in chairs talking at tables.
MLT opened up with the typical board member reports. Chair Goico gave thanks to the emergency services. Sauser did, too. And, he shot an 89 last weekend. John Mendel said business in April picked up pretty nicely, thanks to the weather.
John Morris thanked people for sending out propane safety information, and Deb Radcliff mentioned the importance of determining summer timelines – e.g. what parks of the bike park will be open when? What’s the fishing timeline? How about motorcross? Businesses want to know how to staff up for the summer.
After a talk about air service stats – see page 17 – the board got into TBID renewal.
The conversation spun in circles like a sock in a washing machine. But, sometimes that’s how conversations work.
Amidst talk of communication – “We’ve proven it’s difficult to reach people in town,” said Urdi – and TOT history (3 months of $4 million in TOT for the first time ever), the major discussion point seemed to be MLT’s role in developing the infrastructure that locals are keen on seeing.
Mendel expressed that MLT doesn’t do a good enough job of linking outcomes to TOT and TBID revenue raised by MLT. A lot has been done in terms of outcomes – “when I first came to town, there were no sidewalks; now we have sidewalks!” said Goico – but Mendel seemed to think that the public didn’t relate such outcomes to MLT’s work in bringing more business to Mammoth Lakes.
At one point, Mendel also pointed to the whiteboard in the corner of the room. On it was a wishlist of infrastructure – things like bathrooms, dog parks, and reliable transportation.
“How much of that list has changed [over the past decade]?” Mendel asked. Answer: probably not much. Mendel wanted to know why.
During the wash cycle of a discussion, board members tossed out a few noteworthy lines.
Eric Clark seemed to hit the nail on the head when he said that MLT staff weren’t the people to get it done, but they can help get it done. It being positive outcomes. “The point is,” said Clark, “we’re here to create the ability for our town to get those projects done, and we can get you what we feel are the priorities.
At some point, it was mentioned by a board member – I don’t remember which – that more tourism means more choice. There’s a direct correlation between how many visitors we have, and how diverse our quality of life is.
Without the tourists, there would be no Rite-Aid. Without the tourists, there would be less entertainment, said one board member. Without tourists, there would be fewer grocery store options, fewer restaurants, fewer bars.