Town Council looks at Measure U money for air service

Members of the Mammoth Town Council will spend part of their Fourth of July in a special meeting to decide if they should vote to spend Measure U, or Utility Users tax in Mammoth to subsidize air service this fall from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes by Alaska Airlines. The Town would spend $400,000 of those tax funds.

The Council planned to meet at 2pm July 4th to talk about this. The agenda bill says that “there is a significant risk of losing year-round air service…if funding to subsidize the proposed 4 days per week air service this fall is not secured.” At risk, Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht says, is the loss of service, ability to generate as much Transient Occupancy Tax, the FAA million dollar annual enplanement reimbursement, and other economic impacts.

The agenda bill proposes that air service subsidy be paid by Mammoth Lakes Tourism – $150,000; Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – $300,000; and the Town of Mammoth Lakes – $400,000.

Town staff says air service subsidy fits under the Measure U ordinance which, in part, says the tax money can pay for mobility purposes. Town staff says air service qualifies.

The ordinance does not allow the Town to substitute Measure U money for existing Town financing. The Town Council will have to decide if spending Measure U money is substituting or “supplanting” already budgeted funding. Officials say funds have not been spent directly to subsidize air service by the Town for two years, although Mammoth Tourism has spent money on this.

The Measure U account holds $84,401 from last fiscal year and is predicted to receive $922,853 in the new year in user utility tax on gas, phones and electricity.

The Town Council will direct staff to come back with a resolution appropriating Measure U funds or not.

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Reality
Reality
10 years ago

Almost forgot.

To be fair, you did not include ski day statistics for the following Ski Resorts that Eagle County Regional Airport services as well:

Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Steamboat and Vail.

Throw them ski day numbers in there and see how MMSA competes.

Reality
Reality
10 years ago

Ken: I am ranting. I sir, have accepted and adapted to the reality of progress. You are doomed only because you refuse to accept progress and want this quaint little ki town and vast “processed & farmed” ski resort, to yourself. You do not want to share your sandbox. You… Read more »

Reality
Reality
10 years ago

Ken Warner: “I think Mammoth Lakes should stop trying to be something else and just be itself. And we really don’t need air service at MYA to be our self.” Ken, I hate to be the bearer of reality but that was well established back in the late 40’s. MMSA… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Reality

Rick, what was established in 1953 when McCoy got his permit from the USFS was a ski hill without air service. As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 665 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008; 6,157 enplanements in 2009, and 19,814 in 2010. So given that an… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Reality

BTW: I didn’t come up here to “…change things…” I came up here to ski before there was commercial air service. The big developers are the people who are changing things. Rant at them…..

A question of ethics
A question of ethics
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Is it ethical that the new town mayor of Mammoth Lakes is a developer?
Will he automatically recuse himself in all developmental projects or promote them to the max?
Who are the real winners in this airport development?
Citizens who must pay for empty airline seats?

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago
Reply to  Reality

I totally disagree “Reality” there is far more to the town of Mammoth then skiing and the Mountain. Of course its probably not the glitzy glamour garbage that you’re talking about. Fishing, hiking, camping, and backpacking are enjoyed by a lot of people, but they are not the kind that… Read more »

Reality
Reality
10 years ago
Reply to  JeanGenie

Please give us a substitute for the revenue required/TOT to operate the TOML infrastructure that you currently enjoy if MMSA goes away. Oh, and pay for the $42 million lawsuit.

Again, different is not the right choice of verbiage.

Econ 101
Econ 101
10 years ago

I’m not sure you are clear on the concept Ken. Itseems to me that in tough economic times businesses must appeal to those who have money. Those without money don’t mind driving up from L.A. (as they’ve been doing for many years) to ski. Deer Valley (Park City) had the… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Econ 101

The people you refer to will still go to Deer Valley no matter what Mammoth does short of making MMSA a private, gated community.

Secondly, the people you are using as your demographic model will fly to Mammoth in their own planes.

Just the facts
Just the facts
10 years ago

Of course you don’t have to be rich to enjoy the arts Ken. But those in the ski industry who have been around much longer than Mammoth Mountain, have found that in tough economic times it’s common sense to focus on those with the dough. Deer Valley for example is… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Just the facts

If you are rich, you don’t need anybody to focus on you. You do what you want when you want. And rich usually means smart enough to know when you are being used. If something is good, good people will come and use it. You won’t need to talk them… Read more »

Just the facts
Just the facts
10 years ago

The earth has tilted slightly on its axis causing a climate change. Climatologists tell us to expect milder, winters with much less snow. It may be a good idea to start figuring out what else to offer our visitors. Other ski resorts such as Aspen, Park City, Telluride, etc. have… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Just the facts

You don’t have to be rich to enjoy the arts. It helps to be educated though. And Mono County and Inyo County could put a lot more effort into higher education. Everything I said about high tech professionals can also be applied to college students. Would a college student like… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
10 years ago

Subsidization should not occur using Measure U dollars or any other public funds. Crony capitalization which crowds out healthy market forces cannot be afforded any longer, in Town (bankrupt), the state (insolvent), or the country (largest debtor nation in history). However, a ski town needs public air service year round… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

Maybe. One question that should be discussed by the people who live in Mammoth Lakes is what do they want their town to be? Do they want it to be a place dedicated to supporting any and all businesses that rely on Snow Farming? Do they want Mammoth Lakes to… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

You make some good points Ken and I for one would love to see the local economy diversify. But tell me, do you really believe you’re going to draw those entrepreneurs and professionals who will branch out from tourism without an airport, hoping to sell them on isolation and rusticity… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

A well connected regional hub at Bishop would let Mammoth remain isolated — sort of — and yet provide the necessary high speed transportation. Tourism is not our friend. It’s our dependency. And if there was more investment in alternatives to tourism instead of the blinders on, “it was good… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken- totally agree with you. Any company wanting to locate here should be encouraged to do so.

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

You are quite articulate in your complaints but somewhat short on concrete suggestions other than vague pleas for government to do something. With which I agree, but in my case, the “do something” I’d prefer to see, and what I think is most needed, is for government to stop impeding,… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

You are right that it’s the political climate that prevents or at least discourages such diversification. I don’t have any answer for that problem.

An answer to that is for this state not to be so anal retentive with all of the road blocks it puts businesses up against.

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago

Why should anyone have to pay to subsidize air service to Mammoth? If it isn’t self-sustaining it should go the way of the dinosaur. Why should somebody making minimum wage ( and probably not able to afford to ski in their own town) and struggling to survive help rich people… Read more »

upthecreek
upthecreek
10 years ago

All part of the problem…

Just stop spending money……PERIOD

GGW

Jake
Jake
10 years ago

To the Town Council Wake Up… Your lack of leadership is just gross at this point. I hope your July 4th sucked! At this point I do not support the businesses of ANY council member. PS Eastman’s fake smile at the parade made me want to go spit on the… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

I think that Benett deserves some credit for her timely posting of this clandestine meeting. Had it not been for her good and timely news reporting, I wonder how many people would have shown up at that meeting?

Kudos Benett!!!

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

You’re right Ken, they would have gotten away with it .. on the 4th. of July, hoping no one would show up .. or at least not in sufficient numbers to stop this … hmmm Yeah glad people were informed.

Really Fed up
Really Fed up
10 years ago

Well the meeting was held to a large presence of displeased and appalled town citizens. One after another chastised the town council for their unethical efforts. Council and staff were scolded for the appearance of an illegal taking the tax money. I think the people foiled this scam of the… Read more »

Also fed up
Also fed up
10 years ago
Reply to  Really Fed up

I am in total agreement with you Fed Up.
The town deserves much more than it is getting.
Love the idea of boycotting businesses. But how do you stop council members from sucking up to developers, lobbyists, and all the other outside sources “for the good of the town’s economy?

Feeling ripped off
Feeling ripped off
10 years ago

Robbing Peter to pay Paul. When will they take Measure R money?

Roger
Roger
10 years ago

This is to agree with and add to Brett’s comment. If people really want to fly to Mammoth, charge them for the true cost. If they are unwilling to pay enough, why should those of us who do not use, or plan to use the service, pay any supplement.

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago
Reply to  Roger

Amen Roger and Bret, this isn’t bus service for handicapped people.

John Starts
John Starts
10 years ago

“Avoiding public comments by doing the peoples business behind closed doors? There is no need for a special meeting other than to circumvent the Brown Act i.m.h.o”

What are you posting about, it is a public meeting at 2pm today at town offices, show up and speak your mind.

Fed Up!
Fed Up!
10 years ago

Avoiding public comments by doing the peoples business behind closed doors? There is no need for a special meeting other than to circumvent the Brown Act i.m.h.o. It is time for total transparency regarding the funding of the subsidize air service, especially during the Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings. Has the… Read more »

Devout Liberal
Devout Liberal
10 years ago
Reply to  Fed Up!

Fed up!,

The Town should be just like the Forest Service and state at the beginning of the meeting ( as the last travel management meeting ) that ” WE WILL NOT TAKE ANY PUBLIC COMMENT “

Anti-corruption Movement
Anti-corruption Movement
10 years ago

We should demand an ordinance that will revoke taxpayer-funded pensions for city employees who violate the public trust, and an ordinance that requires city lobbyists to register their names in a public database. Citizens expect an open, honest and transparent government. The lobbyist disclosure ordinance and the reformed Honorable Service… Read more »

Devout Liberal
Devout Liberal
10 years ago

Anti-corruption Unit,

Since you are such an upstanding citizen with impecable ethics, why don’t you run for Town Council?

Talk is cheap !!!!!

Anti-Corruption Movement
Anti-Corruption Movement
10 years ago
Reply to  Devout Liberal

Devout Liberal unit, … because I believe that until any government, (local, national or otherwise) makes it a crime to accept any gifts, favors, nepotism deals, etc., from any outside source (developers, lobbyists, businesses, etc.) the system you have in place will always be a corrupt one. Especially in difficult… Read more »

Bret
Bret
10 years ago

Please don’t subsidize an unprofitable service by using taxpayer money. If people really wanted to fly to Mammoth they will pay for it, that is what capitalism is built on.
One more word; AMTRAK.

John Starts
John Starts
10 years ago

mo·bil·i·ty/mōˈbilətē/ Noun: The ability to move or be moved freely and easily. First off the press has the math wrong, the “shortfall” of $400k in subsidy “guarantee” is for the entire spring, summer and fall air service, not just for fall service. Guarantee is just that a revenue guarantee so… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
10 years ago
Reply to  John Starts

Here is what the agenda bill says: AGENDA BILL Subject: Provide direction to staff on the appropriation of Measure U funds to subsidize 2012 fall air service provided by Alaska Airlines Initiated by: Mayor Lehman and Councilmember Raimondo Written by: Town Manager David Wilbrecht Recreation Manager Stuart Brown INTRODUCTION The… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Here’s the text of Measure U which says in part: http://www.ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=454 “On or after July 1, 2011 all proceeds of the tax and imposed hereunder shall be accounted for and paid into a special fund designated for use by the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and used only for the following… Read more »

voodoo1
voodoo1
10 years ago

the whole situation now stinks, but we need to look past it for a moment. this subsidy is not about the lawsuit or the idiocy that went on surrounding getting air service. the airport is also not just a charter service for mmsa. yes the mountain is a benefactor (but… Read more »

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  voodoo1

1000 percent agree voodoo1!! I know most folks drive up and the air service seems to be a colossal waste to many but it serves more then the purpose of air travel. It’s a fantastic marketing tool as well that shows that Mammoth is a viable place to ski similar… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

You can’t prove any of your assertions. Mammoth is not Colorado or Utah. There’s 9 million people in all of Colorado. There’s 9 million people in L.A. County alone 4-5 hours drive away. Mammoth has been a viable place to ski since it first opened. It doesn’t take air service… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

I sent the following email to all the town council: “Members of the Mammoth Town Council will spend part of their Fourth of July in a special meeting to decide if they should vote to spend Measure U, or Utility Users tax in Mammoth to subsidize air service this fall… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

Not one more dime for the airport. Do I have to say why?

Let them know how you feel.

Mayor
Matthew Lehman
[email protected]

Mayor Pro Tem
Rick Wood
[email protected]

Michael Raimondo
[email protected]

John Eastman
[email protected]

Jo Bacon
[email protected]

Roger
Roger
10 years ago

Don’t you dare– good money after bad. Don’t give my money to rusty.