Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said heâ€™s had it up to here in trying to convince skeptical Mammoth residents that Marianna Marysheva-Martinez is worth her weight in gold.
â€śWe donâ€™t really talk about this very much,â€ť Wilbrecht said near the end of last weekâ€™s four-hour marathon Town Council meeting. â€śMaybe we should.â€ť
Marysheva-Martinez, the assistant town manager, became the townâ€™s budget analyst in the first round of budget crises that affected Mammothâ€™s crazy-quilt finances in February 2011.
She accepted a compensation package of up to $155,000 in salary, along with standard town benefits that raised the cost of the position to roughly $250,000 a year. Her contract runs through March 2013, according to town records.
Going forward without a finance director on the payrollâ€”that position was eliminated 14 months agoâ€”the townâ€™s restructuring plan assumes the need for a permanent director.
Since the first budget meltdown, Marysheva-Martinez led the townâ€™s part of the legal struggles with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition and the Ballas Entities group, eventually leading to a $29.5 million settlement over 23 years.
In the process, she has endured her share of criticism, many from those who object to her salary, but Wilbrecht said he has objections to the objections.
â€śThereâ€™s no doubt in my mind that you wouldnâ€™t be here today, dealing with things in the way you have, without Marianna,â€ť he said to the council.
â€śThere has been a lot of concern and criticism about how much money she makes, how much time she spends, and who is she and what is she doing. But sheâ€™s been an invaluable resource for us.â€ť
In the same speech before the council, Wilbrecht also credited town attorney Andrew Ross for his part in the settlement.
He did not mince words.
â€śWe reduced a writ of mandate from $43 million down to $29.5 million, and over time, that writ of mandate, had we paid it, would have been $60 million over a 10-year period.
â€śIf we had financed the $43 million, it would have been close to $85 million or $90 million.
â€śWe knew we had problems with the Ballas and Hot Creek deals to the development agreement, and there was at least $20 million sitting on the table with potential lawsuits over those things.
â€śYou start adding all these numbers together, it becomes a very, very large deal we were dealing with.
â€śWithout Marianna, with her capacities to analyze, deliver, speak to complex issues in simplistic formsâ€”not that sheâ€™s simplistic, but we areâ€”I think sheâ€™s been very, very helpful and I would defend that as long as I would need to.
â€śSheâ€™s been loyal, capable, and I think sheâ€™s done a great service for us. I just want to make that clear.â€ť