Airport, Mobility commissions get the heave-ho


Council cites spotty attendance, lack of issues

Having trimmed the town staff to the bone, the Mammoth Town Council Wednesday brought the axe down on two of its citizen commissions.

Gone is the Mobility Commission, whose main task over the past two years was to help shape short- and long-range plans for such things as transit routes, pedestrian routes or, as chair Sandy Hogan once put it, “anything to do with mobility.”

Gone, too, is the Airport Commission, which vetted all airport issues from the mundane (where to put taxi kiosks, for example) to a runway layout plan that would pass the requirements set down by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is not mundane but which is now done, at least in draft form.

With the disbanding of the two commissions, Mammoth now has just two commissions, the Planning Commission and the Recreation Commission. The duties of the deleted commissions will pass to the Planning Commission.

The two commissions were just the latest to be blown up. Last year, the Public Arts Commission went the way of the wind after all the members of the body resigned in protest over how it would spend its appropriation.

The town council’s action continued a two-year run of downsizing.

As of May 2011, there were 47 commissions and/or committees in Mammoth, not counting sub-committees, special study groups, etc.

Among the more obscure were such things as the Local Agency Formation Commission, the State 203 Relinquishment Committee, and the USFS Wildlife Signage Committee.

With the town staff reduced in number, Wilbert said employees simply do not have the luxury of providing the commissions with time-consuming research.

“Supporting these various commissions requires staff time and resources,” he argued in the agenda bill that went before the council Wednesday evening.

“That includes coordination staff and commissioners; preparing and producing agenda packets; attending meetings and preparing minutes; follow-up from meetings, such as obtaining signatures and recording approved resolutions.”

Wilbrecht also noted the two commissions’ spotty meeting attendance over the past year.

Even though it had the airport layout plan on its plate, the Airport Commission met just six times in the past 12 months. Six meetings were cancelled—five for a lack of agenda items and another one because of the Christmas holiday.

The Mobility Commission, meanwhile, held just four meetings in 2012, while eight were cancelled—seven for a lack of agenda items and another one for lack of a quorum.

On top of that, the Mobility Commission has not received enough applications to fill out its five-member panel.

The council took the action in spite of a strongly worded protest by Airport Commission Chair Deb Pierrel.

“At this time, with the (layout plan) having just been submitted,” she said in a letter to Wilbrecht and the council, “coupled with the large and forefront projects and needs at the airport, I feel strongly that it (the airport) needs focused, specific, timely and attentive oversight, and well thought out and understood recommendations to the town council.”