Mono budget hearings draw big crowd; $4.7 million shortfall looms

BRIDGEPORT—The Mono County Board of Supervisors this past week drew a packed house in both Bridgeport and Mammoth, but it wasn’t exactly much of a party.


Employees representing nearly every department in the county government heard a mid-year budget review, which projects a $4.7 million shortfall for the 2014-15 fiscal year, barring corrective measures.


County Administrative Officer Jim Leddy led the discussion, which outlined in detail where the county might fall short of what it had expected.


“The challenge Mono County faces is not a one year thing,” Leddy said.


“They are long-term challenges. There are issues that go beyond our borders and are impacted by many factors we can’t control. But there are some things we can address. 


“Today we’re going to look at aspects of the mid-year, but we’re also going to look at where we were, where we are and look at our basic finances.


“There are before you some issues that have been discussed since I’ve been here, but we’re going to have to push the acceleration on those because change is coming to the county whether we do something or not.


“The reality is we are dependent on state and federal funding and are also dependent on the real estate market, which does not stop at the Mono County border.”


It was a challenging environment, to say the least.


During the initial discussion, which broke at noon for the supervisors’ customary noon-hour closed session, takeout orders were delivered to the board, as is customary, although this time the lunches were delivered in front of a packed house.


That drew the attention of County Assessor Bob Musil, who challenged the board on the expense of the lunches.


That, in turn, drew an angry response from Supervisor Fred Stump, who admonished Musil and ran through a litany of cost-saving measures that he himself has undertaken since his election to the board, including taking a pay cut (with the other members of the board).


“And I bring my own lunch,” Stump said.


Supervisor Tim Fesko also defended the board.


“I’ve never asked employees to do something I wouldn’t do myself. 


“I took the cuts in salary and I’m not going to make a big deal about it, but I saw this coming. 


“The day is here.”


Leddy said budget corrective measures were designed to avoid layoffs in the next fiscal year, but cautioned the board—and the crowd—that something has to give, somewhere and somehow.


“We’re going to have to look at doing many different things to try and preserve services and to insure we are fair to our employees and the public, and to build a 2014-15 budget that is sustainable.”