Rim Fire hurts Lee Vining business

monosupervisorsBusinesses in Mono County, especially Lee Vining, have suffered this season due to the disastrous Rim Fire that closed Highway 120 for a time and now the government shutdown which closed Yosemite. Owners of one motel in Lee Vining are asking the Mono Supervisors for more time to pay Transient Occupancy Tax.

Tim and Kimberly Traynor, owners of Yosemite Gateway Motel, wrote a letter to the Supervisors to ask for help for all Mono County lodging businesses. The letter says more time to pay taxes would help businesses “recover from the devastating effect of the recent Rim Fire which ultimately led to the closing of a portion of the Tioga Road in Yosemite for over two weeks in the busiest part of our tourist season.”

The Traynors point out that the normal season is short and there is not a lot of recovery room to fall back on in a summer like this one. The Traynors say the losses have been devastating, and they are trying to find ways to come out of it “without losing everything.” The Traynors say they have been tax-paying business owners for nearly 25 years and find their letter not an easy one to write.

They ask specifically for short term relief for motel owners in Lee Vining. Their letter points out that the third quarter TOT comes due as their season is ending and it is the biggest TOT payment of the year – for them as high as $35,000. They ask that motels be allowed to pay third and fourth quarter TOT over a period of time in payments – interest only and no penalties.

Business realities are that there is virtually no income for the motels during winter months. The Traynors said the Mono Tax Collector said she could not help, so they wrote to the Board of Supervisors where this issue was scheduled for consideration today.

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10 Responses to Rim Fire hurts Lee Vining business

  1. Wayne Deja October 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    sugar magnolia…..Not my confusion…..I knew the park and park entrance was open from the Eastside on Tioga Pass…..The flashing Cal-Trans signs South of the Owens Valley,what the visitors and tourists from Sou Cal going to Yosemite were seeing had nothing stating that the east entrance was open 25 miles into the park…as far as they knew,the 120 East entrance was closed to traffic….nothing stating 25 miles in….just the flashing “closed” sign is what they saw….maybe the signs in Bishop were explaining things better,but not the basic flashing “open or closed” signs south of here,at least the ones north of Ridgecrest, with the Tioga,Sonora and Monitor pass info the travelers were seeing.

    • Benett Kessler October 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      I can verify what you say, Wayne. I saw it too. That’s all it said – Tioga closed.

      • Wayne Deja October 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

        Benett…Sad thing about it is our local visitor center was also telling visitors that Yosemite was closed…and that message,from the visitor center, was relayed to the local liquor stores,markets and quick-stops,thinking what they(the store clerks and owners) were being told was the way it was…. I actually got into an arguement about it with a store clerk, him stating to me CalTrans had personally told him that the park entrance was closed from the east……and what do I know ?.. What I did was e-mail the Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce,hoping they could make some phone calls or connects to fix this problem and mis-information being passed around,since no one was believing me….It’s a shame to see such a nice little town like Lee Vining missing out on God knows how much $$$ over the Labor Day week-end….and now the Government shut-down,and the predicament it’s putting on everyone up there.Hope our wonderful Government gives the business’ up there the stay on paying their TOT untill they can do so without too much of a problem,or having to go out of business…

    • Eastside Dweller October 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      Even signs in Bishop were confusing. One day stating 25 miles east closure and one day stating closed period as I remember.

  2. sugar magnolia October 8, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Basically, the Traynors are asking for a short term loan from the County. They collected tax money and now want to be able to use that money to pay their bills because they’ve had a bad year financially.

    I do feel for the Traynors (and others who the fires affected) and this shows how tenuous our local businesses are these days. I have no problem with the delay in handing over the collected tax money. We’ll see what the County says.

    and fyi wayne, Caltrans CMS signs all said Highway 120 closed 25 (or something like that) miles west of Lee Vining….which was a correct statement. At the same time though, 120 east was closed, and that may have contributed to your confusion.

    • Mark October 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      “They collected tax money and now want to be able to use that money to pay their bills because they’ve had a bad year financially.”

      People have gone to jail for doing just that

      • Kimberly Traynor October 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

        We are not suggesting that we not pay the TOT that we have collected from our guests – only that Mono County waive the steep penalties that we would be charged I it were not paid by the due date. We would still pay the TOT owed plus interest This would simply buy us some time to recover from the devastating loss of income.

        • Mark October 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

          Sounds fair to me Mrs Traynor. You have my support.

        • Shine October 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

          County should use any interest payments towards better signage and information to avoid this loss of business in future. How about a one winter exemption from, or reduction in TOT to help fill empty rooms?

  3. Wayne Deja October 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    Not only that,but the mis-information that was being handed out on Labor Day week-end,both from visitor’s centers,and how Cal-Trans had to state that HWY 120 was totally closed and making tourists believe with their flashing signs on HWY 395 Yosemite was closed too….on Lee Vining’s biggest tourism week-end of the year…HWY 120 was NEVER closed from the eastside,and the Yosemite Valley was NEVER closed to visitors during the Rim fire….ever…the only part that was closed was the western entrance into the park,or if you were headed west through the park and onto the other side of the state…The park remained open,along with 95 % of the campgrounds…Yosemite Valley was NEVER closed…and the valley is by far the biggest attraction visitors come to see.


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