When Mammoth citizens learned that the Town would hire a Community and Economic Development Director at a cost of $226,000, which includes benefits, some objected. With all of the financial problems, they wanted to know if the Town really needs to spend that much money on another manager?
Asked that question, Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez said, “Absolutely.” She said the Town has not done economic development work which focuses on business attraction and retention. Martinez said this is different from marketing. She said the goal of economic development is to make a strong economy and also to diversify the tax base. Now, town government relies heavily on Transient Occupancy Tax.
The Town Manager said, “Through diversification there is more stability. We need to increase the relative share of sales tax and property tax.” For many years, officials have talked about the need for diverse business in Mammoth Lakes with little or no success. How will this effort differ now?
Martinez said she believes that the town staff and community volunteers have the good plans, ideas, visions and specific initiatives to create economic development. She said these ideas need to be consolidated and implemented. Martinez said that is the job of the new Community and Economic Development Director.
Another part of the job, said Martinez, is to retain current businesses and help them to succeed. She pointed to the Digital 395 project and the expanded broadband service as a way to attract new businesses.
The Town Manager pointed to Oakland, where she had previously worked. She said their Economic Development Department looked for auto dealerships to relocate or establish a business. This generated a lot of sales tax revenue. Oakland also turned an old army base into a clean energy business location.
Martinez said the new Economic Development Director will have to come to the position with successful experience. She said the idea is to work with existing businesses to keep them going and to seek out new business to fill services that are lacking up to and including new hotel developments.
The Town Manager said she is beginning to look at fees and possible incentives for new business to make Mammoth Lakes “more business friendly.”
Martinez also pointed out that the money to pay the new Community and Economic Development Director is not new funding. Her plan, she said, is to take the funds budgeted for Assistant Town Manager and spend part of them on the new position and the rest on a new Transient Occupancy Tax enforcement position and a budget analyst position.