Mammoth coffers are dry, about to get downright dusty

When Marianna Marysheva-Martinez throws a fastball, she doesn’t mess around.

The town’s interim town manager fired one at the Mammoth Lakes Town Council Wednesday night. It was high heat, straight down the middle.

The only thing the council could do was stand at the plate and watch it go by, to the tune of about $2 million.

Marysheva-Martinez said that’s the best scenario – a $2 million shortfall in the coming budget, and that doesn’t even include funds to pay off the $30-plus million judgment as a result of the Hot Creek litigation.

It was bad news all the way around, but not as bad as it could be.

John Urdi, the chief of Mammoth Lakes Tourism, said spending may increase earnings, in that increased efforts in marketing may boost the town’s tourism, transient occupancy taxes and ego, if not landing in its coffers right away.

Also, increased enforcement of the Transient Occupancy Tax would boost revenue; scofflaws rob the town of about $400,000 per winter season.

At the same time, Marysheva-Martinez said, the town is facing two “critical vacancies” on the town staff, and she said across-the-board cuts to salaries, benefits and expenses were not going to cut it, so to speak.

The two “critical vacancies” are for a financial analyst/TOT compliance specialist and some one who can provide payroll and accounting support.

Her budget report was even grimmer than the one she delivered last month.

The town took a hit of $131,000 to replace playground equipment at Mammoth Creek Park, $36,000 for the new branding campaign begun by Mammoth Lakes Tourism and $100,000 in a public safety grant that was not received.

Also, a three-member council (Matthew Lehman recused himself and Rick Wood was absent) on Wednesday unanimously approved the higher of two bids for public notices, awarding a year-long contract to the Sheet over the Mammoth Times.

The general fund reserves, meanwhile, are understandably a mess.

In the budget, the general fund reserves should be at about 25 percent of the total town budget.

In reality, Mammoth’s reserve stands at nine percent, which gives everyone the yips all around.
Marysheva-Martinez delivered her report in characteristic, level-headed fashion, and she didn’t hold back.

It was fastball, carrying a lot of heat, right down the middle.