We in the Eastern Sierra have known about Mammoth’s bad news – the $30 million court judgment that failed an appeal and
the specter of potential municipal bankruptcy. Now, everyone else knows too with a Los Angeles Times story out Monday.
Reporter Louis Sahagun led his story like this: “An appellate court decision upholding a $30-million judgment against this High Sierra ski resort has left civic leaders scrambling to avoid financial catastrophe.”
The Times points to the snowiest winter in memory overshadowed by this legal doom. The Times quotes real estate broker Steve Schwind as saying that the people have lost confidence in the Town Council’s ability to serve. John Walters of Mammoth Lakes said he’s scared the situation is worse than officials are admitting.
The reporter also quoted Councilman Rick Wood who said it would be terrible “if the town splinters into angry factions.” Mayor Skip Harvey said, “The time for finger-pointing is over. We must work together on the best possible solutions.”
The Times article asks the question, can the plaintiff raid special emergency reserves? How would drastic cuts in basic services or filing for municipal bankruptcy affect investment, tourism and property values….” Rick Wood is quoted as saying that he suspects the plaintiff “may want to attach the town’s revenue stream, in which case,” he said, “we will file for bankruptcy and argue with them over that for years and years.” This, Wood said, if Mammoth is even eligible for municipal bankruptcy.
The Times said that bankruptcy would be very expensive and could “trigger severe economic consequences that might take years to overcome.” Town Manager Rob Clark is quoted as saying that bankruptcy would not take away the ability to pay for snow removal or emergency responses.