And so it begins.
The Mammoth Lakes Town Council approved its “Restructuring Plan” Wednesday evening, cutting police, public works, parks, salaries, and staff positions.
Everyone knew it was coming; there were no surprises.
Even so, that tap-tap-tap tapping sound you hear is the sound of nervous fingers.
Just what the heck is going to happen, anyway?
We’re likely to be seven cops short of where we were. Police Chief Dan Watson says he is not going to point fingers over the cop shop’s travails, but he also is putting out the word that if police calls aren’t answered promptly, or if they are answered not at all, don’t lay the blame on him or what’s left of the force.
Unsaid by him, the implication is that people who have police issues might want to have mobile phone numbers of the Town Council at the ready.
At Public Works, Director Ray Jarvis and his skeletal crew got their first taste of winter last weekend, and anybody who lives here noticed that the side streets weren’t plowed as fast as usual. The main arteries came out fine, though, and visitors to the ski area wouldn’t have known the difference.
Elsewhere, the Recreation Commission hemmed and hawed its way toward reaching appropriate language for a resolution that would take Measure R tax dollars and move them to the Whitmore Pool and ballfields for a period of two years.
Ultimately, the council found a way around that (See P. 1), avoiding what would have been a dangerous precedent. The fear is they are afraid that if the Measure R can of money flies open, there would be a passel of glad-handers at the door shouting, “Me, too!”
Unseen by most of the public is the town’s WrestleMania with technology. Without a dedicated Information Technology staff, email has been hit-or-miss from time to time; the video and audio broadcasting set-up also is showing signs of catch-as-catch can.
Anyone looking for an intuitive, navigable website for the town, or any kind of meaningful social media, looks to be SOL for now, so we’re settling in for the long haul of late 1990s digital management.
Having said all this, we have noticed that the sky has not yet begun to fall.
Maybe, just maybe (and we know this is looking through rose-colored goggles), Mammoth town government has reached just about the right size.
More crime? We’ll see.
Snow nightmares and road deterioration? Ditto.
Anybody who tells us they know for a certainty what will happen is guessing. We have not visited this kind of landscape before. Nobody has.
And so we’ll see.
Oddly enough, there was a piece of good news that fell out of Wednesday’s meeting.
Collection of transient occupancy taxes, which constitute the lifeblood of our little tourist town, was significantly up. That is a reflection of the town government’s discipline, as well as a reminder as to what kind of a place Mammoth can be in a “Best Summer Ever” scenario.
Outside of the government, merchants are mobilizing to make things better for themselves, while John Urdi at Mammoth Lakes Tourism continues to explore a Business Improvement District, designed to prop up (so to speak) continued air service.
It all feels a little bit sketchy to us, but we’re going to hold judgment.
And in the meantime…