Town Council okays a loan from Measure U dollars

After Measure U Committee concerns and lots of public comment, the Council voted unanimously for a loan from Measure U.With a large crowd at the Mammoth Town Council meeting Wednesday night, Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory pressed the Town to help out with air service subsidy money. He said, “I’m not faking it. Alaska Air is really watching us and how we handle the bankruptcy.” He called air service “basic infrastructure.” The CEO, just out of a rough public meeting in June Lake the night before, said, “People are watching this vote and whether the community is behind it. It matters,” said Gregory, “and we need a vote or air service is over with tonight.”

Gregory told the Council Alaska Air was really watching to see how the Town handles the bankruptcy.Gregory had explained that the banks that hold the loans for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area demanded that the company make some more big cuts in expenses to meet loan financial requirements. That demand led to the closure of June Mountain and the loss of air service subsidy money for the fall. Gregory said when Mammoth Mountain told Alaska Air they did not want to guarantee service for the fall, the airline, Gregory said, told Mammoth Mountain either pay for fall or Alaska will pull out all air service to Mammoth Lakes.

Most people who spoke at the meeting Wednesday supported air service and the Town payment for part of the subsidy. Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said the staff recommended a loan from Measure U or utility tax funds. Councilman John Eastman wanted to know how such a decision would impact the current bankruptcy court proceedings. Town Attorney Andy Morris said the court could not touch special tax money like Measure U. “It’s not available for settlement of the lawsuit,” he said.

Business owner Tom Cage pointed to return on investment – $325,000 for air service subsidy in exchange for $1 million from the FAA due to more than 10,000 enplanements every year and a lot more in tax dollars from those who fly into town. Said Cage, “Its probably four times the investment.” Others spoke of the critical nature of air service for Mammoth as a tourist town and as a home to locals.

Supervisor Byng Hunt of Mammoth was asked if Mono County would help with subsidy money. He chastised the Council for trying to use Measure U money, said he supported air

Tom Cage pointed to return on investment.

service, but told the Council to “get back to basics.” Hunt said the County has not voted on its budget yet and faces big money problems too.

Later Tom Cage stood up again to loudly accuse Hunt of failure to support air service. Cage said to Hunt, “I’m appalled you don’t think there’s enough benefit to at least say you will

fight for some level of air service. I am appalled,” shouted Cage, “that you are telling us to get back to basics. How dare you!”

Ward Jones, developer and motel owner, said he invested in Mammoth in large part because air service was on the way. Jones said, “The decision you make tonight is being watched very closely. You are under the microscope like you wouldn’t believe.”

Council members basically said there was no other money to use, air service is critical and the time is now. Jo Bacon made a motion to approve a resolution for a loan from Measure U to the Town to be paid back next fiscal year or July 1 of 2013. Michael Raimondo seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous.

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MtnHiker
MtnHiker
9 years ago

If Mammoth Lakes has borrowed the money from Measure U, what money is left to do the jobs Measure U was originally intended for? Is there a date this money will be paid back by, if at all?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  MtnHiker

The Council said in their motion it is to be paid back by July 1 of next fiscal year or the following fiscal year.
Benett

Shame on Tom Cage
Shame on Tom Cage
9 years ago

Tom Cage owes a public apology to Supervisor Hunt. Hunt has always been a supporter of air service and has made it quite clear that he cannot speak for the other supervisors (some of which live in Timbuktu and contribute ? to the county’s overall economy but receive all the… Read more »

No he does not!
No he does not!
9 years ago

Tom Cage owes no one an apology. He has the right to speak his mind. Non of you noticed the folks who spoke for an Air subsidy. They were the same who ranted about commercial flights to begin with. Hunt needs to support his community in that what he lives… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago

Bishop only got a long term lease from LADWP this year. Without that, the FAA wouldn’t help them develop it. Now that Bishop has a long term lease, it will be interesting to see how the development of that airport proceeds. It’s already a more developed airport with more room… Read more »

It's how you say it
It's how you say it
9 years ago

It’s now what you say (right to speak one’s mind) – it’s HOW you say it (Cage childishly shouting at Hunt in public even though Hunt has always supported air service) If we want to hear childish shouting we’ll all turn in to Rush Limbaugh. This kind of “communication” is… Read more »

Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck
9 years ago

Rusty to the Town Council – “Their watching you tonight, we need a 5-0 or the planes will disappear” You know who was watching? Your citizens, calling a special meeting on the 4th of July, like a bunch of Keystone cops. I, like many others who pay the taxes that… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Friar Tuck

I agree. But I think the town government is so incapable of rational, long term planning that the town will have to completely fail to get the clique of “stakeholders” out of the town leadership. I see no way of trying to reason with them. They’ve got it fixed in… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
9 years ago
Reply to  Friar Tuck

Many consider commercial air to be a quality of life issue, not a quality of business issue as you characterize it. Simply because it might also happen to help businesses does not mean it is bad, or that it is not a mobility issue, or that for many of us,… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

Seems I have to correct you (again). I don’t characterize air service as a quality of business issue. It is a business issue. Your assertion that air service is a quality of life issue is absolutely correct. But it’s not one or the other it’s both. And the Chamber of… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
9 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Calm yourself Warner. My response was not to you, but to Friar (which is why it is on the same indentation as your reply to Friar is, but you have to be inquisitive, not looking for a fight, to notice). Have another beer, turn on The Kardashians or Rachel Maddow… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

My apologies —

Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck
9 years ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

I do hope we get another bite of the apple Tourbillion. Both “tax” measures should be put to a repeal challenge, we can then decide this”tax” issue was based on voters intentions instead of a politicians interpretation. I think Rusty duped the taxpayers with the help of the Mammoth 5-0… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
9 years ago

Don’t people up there in Mammoth realize when you borrow money…or make a loan…eventually you have to pay it back ?…You can only file bankruptcy so many times…unless your playing the game of Monopoly.

Trouble
Trouble
9 years ago

Wow Mammoth- how do you think the bankruptcy judge is going to like this back room deal / loan ?

upthecreek
upthecreek
9 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

The judge has already received his yearly mountain pass….LOL

Unwarranted Attack
Unwarranted Attack
9 years ago

Tom Cage’s shouting attack on Supervisor Hunt was ill-founded an unwarranted. Supervisor Hunt has always clearly stated his support for the airport but has also stated he cannot speak for the entire board whose districts may or may not directly benefit from it. It’s doubtful that air visitors are going… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago

I think Tom Cage either mis-interpreted what Hunt said or thought he said something else. He explained quite clearly that Mono County supported air service but that they had not yet met to discuss how to support air service. Rusty just sprung this ransom demand on the town in a… Read more »

Roger Rilling
Roger Rilling
9 years ago

Maybe?– Car rental business at airport– connection to tom cage and loss of temper? –just saying-

H
H
9 years ago
Reply to  Roger Rilling

Perhaps Mr. Cage should donate 10 cents per gallon at his Chevron Station in Mammoth towards the airport subsidy. His pricing of a gallon of gas along with the other stations in Mammoth reflects badly in the minds of our guests and visitors who feel they are getting taken advantage… Read more »

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
9 years ago

Has everyone forgotten Alpha Air? Mammoth has had air service before, and it was unable to survive. As far as residents of Mammoth depending on air service, everyone knows you drive to Reno and fly out of there. Most people can’t afford to pay $250 to fly to LA or… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
9 years ago
Reply to  JeanGenie

All good points. There are substantial problems with the way acquiring air service for the Easter Sierra is being done. Your critique outlines only some of the problems. And there is no discussion about those problems. It’s just subsidize Alaska Airlines and forget about the details like no FAA approved… Read more »

Jake
Jake
9 years ago

Thanks for subsidizing Tom and Rusty’s business venture’s, can I get a loan for my local tourist business?

H
H
9 years ago

Yes, this Council is a sneaky bunch. But the shell game of kicking the can down the road will come to a crashing end at some point and the community will pay dearly long after these clowns are no longer on Council. It comes to an end when the Town’s… Read more »

upthecreek
upthecreek
9 years ago
Reply to  H

H
“its all a game to them at the expense of the community.”

lawyers are very good at two things.
Sending out bills for 500-800 dollars per hour and getting More complicated laws passed .. Forcing you to use their services. All part of the game .

GGW

taxifornia
taxifornia
9 years ago
Reply to  H

The Can has been kicked for 10 years now.
I think they need a new can.

Fire them all

Bret
Bret
9 years ago

Mark my words that loan money from Measure U will never be repaid after MMSA declares BK. Taking money form the many and directing it an incompetent company will not solve a thing. I’ve seen this happen 4 years ago when the big banks went begging for money and predicting… Read more »

johndoeml
johndoeml
9 years ago

The bankrupt town will pay back the loan? No. This is theft from Measure U funds. It won’t be paid back as everyone on the council knows.

upthecreek
upthecreek
9 years ago
Reply to  johndoeml

Like I have said MANY times before..

We need to get the “GREED” out of this town and the Mountain . Until we do It will be More of the same …
The people really need to” WAKE UP”

Govt gone wild

Really Fed up
Really Fed up
9 years ago

At least they did not pull from Measure U, The flood gates would have definitely opened then. There would have been no stopping what the money would have been used for. The funny thing is that Rick Wood still does not get it. If Measure U was to have been… Read more »