Wilbrecht defends Marysheva-Martinez

Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said he’s had it up to here in trying to convince skeptical Mammoth residents that Marianna Marysheva-Martinez is worth her weight in gold.

“We don’t really talk about this very much,” Wilbrecht said near the end of last week’s four-hour marathon Town Council meeting. “Maybe we should.”

Marysheva-Martinez, the assistant town manager, became the town’s budget analyst in the first round of budget crises that affected Mammoth’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 payroll—that position was eliminated 14 months ago—the town’s restructuring plan assumes the need for a permanent director.

Since the first budget meltdown, Marysheva-Martinez led the town’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.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that you wouldn’t be here today, dealing with things in the way you have, without Marianna,” he said to the council.

“There 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 she’s been an invaluable resource for us.”

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.

“We 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.

“If we had financed the $43 million, it would have been close to $85 million or $90 million.

“We 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.

“You start adding all these numbers together, it becomes a very, very large deal we were dealing with.

“Without Marianna, with her capacities to analyze, deliver, speak to complex issues in simplistic forms—not that she’s simplistic, but we are—I think she’s been very, very helpful and I would defend that as long as I would need to.

“She’s been loyal, capable, and I think she’s done a great service for us. I just want to make that clear.”