Business Improvement District proposal hung up on retail

oldmammothrdAs the old year ends, business owners in Mammoth Lakes still debate formation of a Business Improvement District. The biggest challenge, according to Mammoth Lakes Tourism Director John Urdi is which retail stores to include in the new district and how much to tax them. Lodging and restaurants will definitely go into the district. It’s retail that has raised questions.

The idea focuses on businesses that directly benefit from tourism with a tax on their gross income. The proposed taxation goes like this – Lodging pays 1%, retail and restaurant pay 1.5% and lift tickets and ski school pay 2%. All of this would raise an estimated $4 million. Around $2 million of that would go to marketing and sales, $175,000 to Public Relations, $1.1 million to air service marketing, $175,000 to special events and $175,000 to administrative costs and reserves. As Urdi said, the retail piece of this has held up a final agreement.

Sports shop owners Tom Cage and Tony Colasardo feel a 1% tax would be more fair. Cage said he and Colosardo have spent many hours meeting with retailers and Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory who first proposed a Business Improvement District. Cage said that retailers do not generally support the 1.5% tax. He said this would give Mammoth Lakes the highest tax rate in the state. Said Cage, “It’s too much, but we can support 1%.” Colasardo pointed out that a 1% increase for lodging would up the bed tax by roughly 12 to 13%. A 1.5% for retail would mean a bump in sales tax of 22%.

Another sticking point – right now, Vons, Rite-Aid and the Do-It Center are not in line for new taxes. Retailers say those places do benefit from tourism and should pay, lowering the overall tax needed. Tourism Director Urdi said it’s all up in the air right now. He admitted that the retail part of the plan presents the biggest challenge. Urdi said, “Lodging and restaurants are the easiest to define how they benefit from tourism.” Asked why Vons, Rite-Aid and the Do-It Center are not on the list to be taxed, Urdi said the exploratory committee on the new taxes does not want to impact local people. Urdi called Mammoth’s Improvement District “groundbreaking” because it will involve more than lodging which is what most BID’s in the state include. Urdi said, “The whole goal is to get the community marketed, including Mammoth Mountain.”

He is a believer that marketing will bring more people and more dollars to town. Urdi sees leveraging free air fare with lodging and dining packages as one way to do that. He said, “We need people to keep Mammoth in the top of their minds or they will go somewhere else.” He said marketing efforts could focus on mid-week and shoulder seasons to even out the economy. That’s been a Mammoth Lakes goal for decades. As for the improvement district, Urdi said the support for it outweighs concerns.

The exploratory committee of some 18 business people will meet again January 8. Urdi said they will get on the phone with their attorney and deal with what retailers can be taxed. Tom Cage said he has talked to twelve other retailers who “have heartburn about Vons, Rite-Aid and the Do-It Center not being included.” Cage said why not include them and lower the tax rate. With the sales tax in Mammoth Lakes at 7.25%, when Measure R’s .50% is added along with Measure 30 at the start of the new year at .25%, the total will equal 8%. Then add 1.5% for retailers and they sit at 9.5%. Many Mammoth retailers say that’s just too high.

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ferdinand lopez
ferdinand lopez
9 years ago

kudos to anyone who quotes the dead kennedys

Chip Chipperson
Chip Chipperson
9 years ago

Ken are you one of those guys that shoot blanks at your TV when Rambo is on?” This could be anywhere, this could be every where”.-J Biafra

Bill
Bill
9 years ago

I think it’s disgusting that Vons, Rite Aid, DIY Center (Do it Center) would not be considered for this tax!!!!!!! They are corporations that send money (profits) right out of town!! They have many advantages small retailer do not have – why give them a break???? And what true local… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Bill

[Obscure reference test]

“Oh nooo, Mr. Bill ouwwieee…”

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Don’t feel like a total outcast Ken, your correct. Our country has gone from supply and demand principles, to whatever the market will bare.

Jeremiah's Alter Ego
Jeremiah's Alter Ego
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

The Country has gone to whatever supports the rich and their greedy ways the most. When I learned the reason why Apple will never fully be built and manufactured here on US soil is because the profit margin will go down and the investors of the Apple stock won’t go… Read more »

MJA
MJA
9 years ago

How about reducing the payment to Ballas and his friends to 100 dollars a month and calling that the deal! Deal?

=

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  MJA

MJA, Please realize your suggestions are no longer options. The deal is signed. The bankruptcy court pressed Mammoth to the wall and this is what the Town opted to live with.
BK

Civility vs Nasty
Civility vs Nasty
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Today’s Mammoth Times had a terrific note in the letters section regarding the Times not publishing anonymous letters, the citing of sources, and no uncivil name-calling will be allowed.

Bravo, Mammoth Times! Bravo!

MJA
MJA
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Its a done deal except for the money part, right?

=

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  MJA

Right.
BK

SkiJohn
SkiJohn
9 years ago
Reply to  MJA

MJA, I truly believe your intentions are good, but it’s a DONE DEAL! The whole thing. Done, over, gone, settled. We’ve already made a payment to them – 2.5 million, and 2 million every year for a long, long time.

MJA
MJA
9 years ago
Reply to  SkiJohn

Settled except for the money, the millions of dollars yet paid, where it will come from, and the payments over a long long time. This deal is far from done. I think Mammoth should continue to way and search for options including not paying Ballas another dime. That would be… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago

And by the way, the difficult times our local businesses are having isn’t caused by me not eating $12 burritos — it’s because they are all in competition with MMSA and the businesses they quietly partner with. MMSA is in competition with every single business in Mammoth but Von’s, RightAid… Read more »

familygal
familygal
9 years ago

@greg: why should property owners pay for the TCs bad decisions? I am a property owner and I will not vote to raise my property tax, no matter how small the increase. My solution: first vote those on the TC responsible for this mess OUT of office, second keep the… Read more »

Greg Young
Greg Young
9 years ago
Reply to  familygal

Because if you voted, you and I voted these individuals into office. If you didn’t vote, shame on you for that! Either way, the TC didn’t just appear one day. They were voted into office. Like it or not, we live with their decisions. Remember, above all, at this point… Read more »

quietstorm
quietstorm
9 years ago
Reply to  Greg Young

never did I vote woods, eastman and barrett into office! and from those three the seeds of this mess were planted and watered!

Greg Young
Greg Young
9 years ago

Stop trying to change the way you (Town Council) run the town budget. This settlement is a punishment for a bad decision. Doesn’t matter now the how, the why and the who. This is a court ordered punishment. The town has been pared back too much already, especially law enforcement.… Read more »

Is Capitalism Doomed?
Is Capitalism Doomed?
9 years ago
Reply to  Greg Young

1.A capitalist economy must expand in order to remain healthy. 2. Expansion requires resources. 3. Resources are finite within the universe. Thus we find that there comes a point, wherein there are no resources free to be used for expansion. As expansion halts, the capitalist economy withers and dies. We… Read more »

Outraged Citizen
Outraged Citizen
9 years ago

The businesses can vote to establish the District but the town ultimately has to approve the resolution.

Support local businesses
Support local businesses
9 years ago

Dear Ken Warner – Your post is offensive and absurd. Yes, Mammoth has some higher prices, for obvious reasons. You live in this wonderful town, yet publicly say you won’t shop at 99 percent of its businesses. You are the problem, not the solution. There wouldn’t be a Mammoth Lakes… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago

So I’m a problem because I won’t be a tool for the greedy corporations and small time crooks who run this town and speak through witless puppets like yourself.

Ok, I can live with that…..

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, I think the commenter was supportive of the individuals who own businesses in Mammoth and struggle, like all of us small business owners, to bring a good product to people at a fair price. It’s not easy in the Eastern Sierra. Certainly some stores may be priced for tourists.… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

No, that guy is just another idiot hiding behind a pseudonym to satisfy his own need for notoriety. His words and intent are no more meaningful than a robocall. We here in Mammoth don’t have much choice in where we get our basic necessities. We can’t drive to Bishop to… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, Maybe you should sit down and watch one of the versions of A Christmas Carol. Even Scrooge opened his heart to his fellow man. I happen to know, in this case, that the person you are attacking is a good-hearted local man who sees the plight of the small… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

…but it’s ok for him to call me disgusting?

Whatever — anyone who hides behind pseudonyms can’t be taken very seriously.

SkiJohn
SkiJohn
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

No Ken, you’re the problem because you never offer realistic solutions, you don’t add anything positive on this blog and you certainly do NOTHING for this community except gripe and complain on here. Now you admit you don’t even bother to support local businesses! Unbelievable. If you hate Mammoth, you… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  SkiJohn

If people would have listened to me — and others — about the bad decisions made about the airport development, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess now.

The People no longer care
The People no longer care
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, In a true democracy, The People would have a say in the airport development fiasco. Unfortunately, its the elected officials who have the power – not The People. We even had one elected official (Eastman) who was there from the beginning, tried to use his influence to get a… Read more »

Bill
Bill
9 years ago
Reply to  SkiJohn

Agree 100%.

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

That’s not the way it works. Maybe I don’t think our adventures in the middle east are great ideas but I still have to pay taxes to support them. Maybe I think mindless subsidies for failed energy solutions are a sop for greedy corporations courtesy of small time crooks in… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

Ignoring your petty insults — I pay the same taxes. And I don’t like unnecessary war or subsidies to the fossil fuel industry either. But they are the law of the land and in the end those taxes do more good than harm. But the BID tax is not yet… Read more »

mammoth Resident
mammoth Resident
9 years ago

what i want to know is how is this tax going to be implemented?

Is it voted on by the public? the Council? How is it to be done.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago

The businesses participating vote among themselves. The taxes go to the Town which then administers the money back to Mammoth Lakes Tourism for the uses listed in our story. The Town keeps an administrative fee. It does not go to a public vote. This involves approval of a majority of… Read more »

J.J.
J.J.
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Businesses, voting among themselves to tax the public for monies to market their interest? Why are they not voting to fund the BID out of their own income streams? How is it that a business that can underreport their income and payroll taxes, can be allowed to vote on a… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  J.J.

Bravo!!! Well said….

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Hey Benett, when are our blogger voting rights going to be resorted?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

We’re having problems with the website and will be making some changes. Stay tuned.
Benett

The original J.J.
The original J.J.
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Trouble this isn’t a democracy, you get a vote when the plutocrats say you get a vote !

lennie krantz
lennie krantz
9 years ago

1% across the board. Vons Riteaid Do It The Mtn, maybe even a 1% property tax assessment. Keep it fair! Nobody asked for the enormous law suit, unfortunately all of us, locals & tourists alike have to deal with the consequences.
Lennie Krantz
Sierra Jewelers, Mammoth Lakes

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  lennie krantz

NFW!!! I didn’t have anything to do with creating the mess that led to the law suit and the eventual penalty award. Let those who did pay for it. I’ve been against spending money on the airport for anything since I became aware of the details years ago. There are… Read more »

familygal
familygal
9 years ago
Reply to  lennie krantz

Lennie…NO on property tax increase! Never!

Chip Chipperson
Chip Chipperson
9 years ago
Reply to  lennie krantz

How about a 15% surcharge..on all “luxury items”….Snomobiles, Skis, Snow Blowers, Season Passes….and most of all, JEWELRY…….GET IT?

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago

Chip- I hope you are kidding. That’s like shooting yourself in the foot.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

But that’s the self hurting attitude of a lot of the “support your local (whatever)” crowd. I guess to really support the local businesses, one should shop around for the most expensive items they can find and go into deep debt to buy them. And if you are spending less… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, dear, chill!!! The Sierra Wave is universally Eastern Sierra. Hey, after all,
the famous Los Angeles TV stations are really in Burbank.
Happy New Year,
Benett

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, you’re in trouble now! Reading The Sheet is sort of like watching I Love Lucy reruns. I much prefer the Three Stooges here.

erik simpson
erik simpson
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Trouble is right on the money here. Except that I believe there are lots more than just three stooges present. But Ken, why are you so worked up? By your own account your involvement with TOML is pretty minimal.

Chip Chipperson
Chip Chipperson
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

I’m responding to the jewelers comment….Im against any kind of tax increase..Im for fiscal responsibility, something that elected officials around the country dont seem to have a grasp of.. I didnt appreciate Lenny suggesting taxing other businesses…I was upstaging the ridiculous w/ ridiculousness…[email protected]…chill pill man, you arent going make it… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago

As long as Von;s, RightAid and DoIt are not “taxed”, I could care less. I don’t buy anything in Mammoth other than the bare essentials at the above stores. Everything else I buy online. Anyone who buys anything in Mammoth has either got more money than he wants to count… Read more »

Outraged Citizen
Outraged Citizen
9 years ago

It is absurd to me that this new “tax” will go only to tourism, marketing, etc. Does anyone not realize that when the town goes to hell quickly because we have a sub-par police force that all the marketing in the world will not get people here? I have personally… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago

Just a note on that – At least three Town Council members have said they will not initiate taxes on the local residents. Business owners, initiated by MMSA, are putting together the BID taxes. The Council did say if citizens brought forward a request for taxes to offset cuts to… Read more »

Outraged Citizen
Outraged Citizen
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

But the city council still has to sign off on the BID. So, are the three members not going to sign off on this new “tax” since they say they won’t initiate taxes on local residents? Or, do they think that “locals” don’t actually eat out and shop in Mammoth?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago

My understanding is that the process involves the businesses only making the decision. Mr. Urdi made the point that they are trying to leave out retail stores that locals use, but you’re right locals do eat out and shop at a variety of places. In most communities lodging is the… Read more »

Outraged Citizen
Outraged Citizen
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Not exactly. BIDs are covered under Streets & Highways Code
§36600 of the California Code. There has to be a resolution passed by the town council to put it into place. Feel free to read up on it.

Eternal Liberal
Eternal Liberal
9 years ago

Outraged Citizen,

DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS!!!!

SEE YA.