Town Manager responds to MLLA revelations


Mammoth Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht

From their position in the dark to the harsh glare of a new court fight, the Mammoth Lakes public woke up to the shock that negotiations over the huge debt that threatens their town have fallen through, and that Town finances have worsened.

Jay Becker of Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition pulled back the curtain of secrecy when he sent a letter to local media.  Town officials finally revealed that they had made an offer to MLLA that the Town could not afford and withdrew it.  Then they revealed that MLLA had gone back to court to demand the whole $42 million now.  The public will have a first chance at comments and questions when the Town Council meets next Wednesday.

When the Town issued a press release Tuesday to deny MLLA’s claim that Mammoth had ceased negotiations and acted in bad faith, officials said they did have to withdraw an offer because of “worsened financial conditions.”  What does that mean, and where does the Town stand?  Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said that in December officials “started to look at things” and saw a future shortfall of Transient Occupancy Tax, the main revenue for town government, and a softening of property tax revenue.  He said this on top of a 4.5% employee raise coming up and more costs for rent, health care and retirements foretold a $1 million to $2 million shortfall this fiscal year going into next.

Wilbrecht said, “We realized we needed to look back at financial issues coming forward. We had to pull back and see what it all means.”  He said the Town wanted to use January to reassess and get direction from the Town Council for another offer to MLLA.  Wilbrecht said MLLA didn’t want to wait.  He said that the Town did request another stay agreement which had kept MLLA from collection of the $42 million.  Instead of approving more delay, MLLA went back to court to collect their money.

Now, the Town will have to pay more to respond to MLLA’s court action. Wilbrecht urged calmness and said he would meet with Town employees to show them no one’s in a panic.  When asked how much money the Town had offered MLLA and how much MLLA had offered, Wilbrecht said that officials would reveal these figures if it would not jeopardize future negotiations.

Wilbrecht said that the Town continues to look at “what we can pay and maintain our resort status.”  He confirmed that the Town Council will present an agenda item next Wednesday to accommodate public discussion of this issue.  Wilbrecht said the item will take place immediately after the pledge of allegiance. The Town Council meeting takes place Wednesday, February 15th at 6pm in Suite Z.

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10 Responses to Town Manager responds to MLLA revelations

  1. Michael J Ahles February 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Just give them the airport and tell them to get there own FAA grants and approvals for the whatever they want to build. Who would stay out there anyway no matter what they build?
    And as for the airport, most people drive to Mammoth and always will.
    Hey Mammoth, just let go.


  2. Wilfred S. February 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    It’s in the interest of the town manager “team” to drag this out as long as possible. They’re both making huge salaries with fat benefits — why spoil a good thing. The town really needs some hard working individuals who care more about their community than the size of their pension. This is beyond ridiculous.

    • upthecreek February 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      Could Not agree with the above statement more..

      Self serving Pensions trolls

  3. 2rude February 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    In my view, the TOML violates the spirit if not the letter of the Brown Act when it conducts these “negotiations” behind closed doors.

    The “litigation” exception to the Brown Act’s open-meeting requirement is intended to allow the governing body of a public entity to provide confidential direction to its attorneys in the course of ongoing litigation. Here, the “litigation” is long over, and so at this point the parties are negotiating over how an already-awarded judgment will be paid; the TOML is not really discussing “litigation” strategy in these closed sessions.

    More importantly, when a $40 million judgment is involved, those “negotiations” will necessarily involve important fiscal/policy matters and require decisions to be made that will greatly affect the future of the Town. Consequently, I think those discussions should take place in public.

    Is this debacle not a prime example of the mischief that occurs when public officials violate the purpose and intent of the Brown Act? Thanks.

    • Benett Kessler February 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm #


      What are your thoughts on the confidentiality agreement the two sides signed in regard to
      these negotiations?

      Benett Kessler

      • 2rude February 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

        In a word? Bogus. The Brown Act and the Public Records Act trump such agreements; that’s why clauses in agreements between public entities and private parties that seek to keep certain information confidential always (or should) conclude with a qualification such as “except as provided by federal or state law (e.g. the California Public Records Act).”

        Moreover, both the Brown Act and the Public Records Act have a number of very reasonable provisions that allow public entities to keep certain info/records confidential.

        So, if the TOML felt a confidentiality agreement was necessary, then it must have concluded it wanted to keep things secret above and beyond what they could have kept secret under existing law; to that extent, I think the confidentiaility agreement is ultra vires (beyond legal authority) because it is state law, and not agreements with private parties, that governs what information public officials can refuse to make public. This sort of proves my point (I think).

        Thanks for asking.

      • Mammoth Resident February 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

        It looks like that whole confidentiality thing is out the window now don’t ya think?

        This is pure political posturing at this point. What we have here is the following:
        1) the town is trying to wear down MLLA
        2) the town is trying to scare the town to accept what the town needs to do.
        3) MLLA is trying to scare all that it will get worse if they do not settle.
        4) the town is trying to scare employees that they could lose their jobs.
        5) the county has already looked into absorbing some key personnel in the event of the township dissolving and going back to the county.
        6) the town seems to think that no one on the outside sees what wasting is going on in the town. Ice rink concrete, two town managers, looking to fund a gateway sign, funding consultants to devise an antiquated accounting software program. I can go on and on and on!

  4. P&B February 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    How convenient that the Town wished to re-assess what they had previously decided to commit to!?!?!? Sounds like the definition of “bad faith negotiations”.

    And where were Wilbrecht and 3M when these bad decisions were made? Isn’t this what the tax payers money paid to them was for to professionally guide the inexperienced elected officials?

    It is readily apparent that the Town is proceeding down the same course that put them in this mess in the first place and spending bucket loads of money on “no results experts” in the process – with only the legal professionals and “no results experts” coming out ahead – what a rip-off to the tax paying citizens.

    Wilbrecht (he’s better than Rob Clark how???) and 3M should resign in disgrace….

  5. upthecreek February 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    “Wilbrecht said this on top of a 4.5% employee raise coming up and more costs for rent, “health care” and “RETIREMENTS” foretold a $1 million to $2 million shortfall this fiscal year going into next.”

    I would like to know how much of this is for the increase in Pension costs.

    I am sure the rents didn’t go up that much with the large amount of vacant office space in Mammoth.


  6. upthecreek February 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht Or MMM.. I am soooooo confused.

    How many town mangers do we have??..

    GET IT OVER WITH TOML file the BK.. We all know there is NO WAY the town could ever pay 15 Million to the MLLA Gang

    Public Pensions for everyone in Mammoth Lakes before you file the Chapter 9



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