Task force to take on special events funding puzzle


Focus is on best use of tax money

The Town Council had its first look on Wednesday, May 1, at a proposal that would establish a five-member committee to create the rules by which special event producers might use public tax dollars.

Council member Jo Bacon, the Measure U Application committee, and the Recreation Commission all initiated the idea.

Its genesis was in an April 2 workshop with the Mammoth Lakes Events Coalition.

The proposal for a new committee arrived in the council’s hands during the council meeting on Wednesday as a result of votes by both the Measure U Committee and the Recreation Commission.

At stake is how producers might use Measure R monies, which are strictly earmarked for new recreation projects, and Measure U funds that are earmarked for arts and culture events, as well as for recreation and mobility.

This year, as a result of the Measure U tax measure, the town is to generate $1.5 million. As it stands now, about 50 percent has been invested in recreation, 10 percent in mobility, and 40 percent in arts and culture (events).

At their respective meetings, both advisory bodies adopted a motion to form a five-member “limited-term” task force to provide recommendations to Town Council on the best use of Town funds for all events.

The Task Force will be comprised of a representative from Mammoth Lakes Tourism, the Recreation Commission, the Measure U Application Committee, the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and the Mammoth Lakes Events Coalition.

Already, the Measure U Application Committee appointed “Arts and Cultural” representative Joyce Turner to the Task Force, while the Recreation Commission appointed Commissioner Pat Agnitch.

Just to make sure everyone was starting on the same page, both Recreation Manager Stuart Brown and Town Attorney Andrew Morris made sure the council understood (again) the distinction between the two special use funds.

They included it in the agenda bill that found its way to the dais during the Wednesday meeting.

nMeasure R: The ordinance imposed a transactions and use tax in the amount of one-half percent for the purpose of funding Recreation, Trails and Parks.

Funds can only be used for the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, programming and administration of all trails, parks and recreation facilities managed by the Town of Mammoth Lakes without supplanting existing parks and recreation facility maintenance funds.

nMeasure U: The Utility Users Tax (UUT) of 2.5 percent is imposed on all users of telephone, electric, and propane in Mammoth Lakes.

The funds can only be used for the following purposes: Planning, construction, operation, maintenance, programming and administration of facilities and projects for Mobility, Recreation and Arts and Culture.

The difference between the two funds is that with increased visitation and subsequent increase in sales tax (.5 percent) from event participants, the assumption is that the Measure R fund balance would increase year-to-year.

Conversely, as Measure U is a user utility tax with funds derived from utility usage, there is little direct correlation and mechanism that would exponentially grow the fund balance.