Not everyone in June Lake is happy about how the community will spend all of the $100,000 in “bridge” money Mono County gave it to survive a winter without June Mountain Ski Area.
“We are in agreement as a community about how to spend about $75,000 to $85,000 of the money,” said Ralph Lockhart, current president of the June Lake Revitalization Committee and the June Lake Chamber of Commerce.
The money will go toward marketing the community and all the events planned for the winter, and the county tourism department will administer it.
But the rest of the money is another story.
Mono County Supervisor and June Lake business owner Vikki Bauer and at least one other chamber representative resigned from their posts as June Lake Chamber of Commerce members after a contentious meeting last week regarding the remaining portion of the $100,000.
“It was a hostile takeover of the chamber,” she told the county supervisors Tuesday. She said that a group of new (or newer) chamber members showed up (“that we haven’t seen for years”) and out-voted a longtime group of chamber members who didn’t want the chamber to administer the money, fearing it would expose the group to too much liability.
“We aren’t equipped to handle it,” Bauer said. “I personally know I’m not comfortable as a chamber member with the liability that could come from a snow play area and a cross country ski area. And little lights on Main Street are not going to solve June’s problems” (some June residents have proposed spending several thousand dollars on white lights to light up the town this winter).
She was also worried about the fact that the community is still not clear about what to do with the remaining money.
“It’s that last 30 percent that we aren’t clear on,” she said. She had hoped some of it would go toward transit for people moving between June and Mammoth, and toward finding a buyer for June Mountain, but her views did not prevail.
Lockhart said when he heard how upset Bauer and other chamber members were, he withdrew from a plan for the chamber to administer the remaining money.
“I would rather withdraw the request that was approved yesterday than proceed when there are members of the chamber that feel this strongly about not participating,” he wrote in an email he sent to chamber members after last week’s meeting.
“We don’t want to sow divisiveness,” he said Wednesday. “The remainder of the money will be administered by the county, just like the rest of it has been.”
He acknowledged there was still some work to do to decide on how to best spend the remaining money.
“There are still some details to work out,” he said.
The news that there was some discord in June Lake over the bridge money did not go over well with some of the supervisors.
Tim Hansen voted to allocate the $100,000 to June, but he noted then, and again Tuesday, that his constituents in North County were already a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing.
“They are struggling up there and we aren’t giving them money,” he said. “If June Lake residents are fighting over this remaining money, maybe we should take it back.”
Supervisor Hap Hazard agreed, saying if there was going to be discord, maybe the county should return that money to the general fund.
The supervisors directed staff to “review” the situation and get back to them soon.