State May Eliminate Free Skiing for Seniors at Cannon Mountain
Senate Bill 441 will give state management the ability to eliminate free midweek skiing for resident senior citizens.
Thursday, April 7, 2016, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Senate Bill 441 has been approved by the New Hampshire legislature and is on its way to the Governor's desk, allowing state management to eliminate free skiing for resident senior citizens at Cannon Mountain.
Current Law and Rates
Presently, according to RSA 218:5-c, "a resident of this state and who has attained the age of 65 shall, upon proper identification, be admitted to any state recreation area, including but not limited to parks, historical sites, beaches, and state-operated ski areas, without charge" except on Saturdays and Sundays, when they "shall be charged the usual fee for the use of so-called 'uphill devices.'" Pursuant to the RSA, in 2015-16 Cannon provided resident seniors free midweek lift tickets and a $39 midweek season pass. The weekend senior lift ticket was $53.
Impact of Senate Bill 441
If signed into law, Senate Bill 441 would trigger RSA 216-A:3-g, which states, "[f]ees for the use of campgrounds and ski lifts shall be comparable with the fees for use of similar privately owned facilities."
The law would, based upon 2015-16 rates, allow Cannon's management to charge resident seniors up to $25 for midweek lift tickets and up to $50 for weekend lift tickets. According to the Concord Monitor, Cannon's management plans to increase the senior midweek season pass from $39 to $139.
Recouping Lost Revenue
The bipartisan bill was reportedly introduced at the request of the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), which is struggling financially. According to DRED records, since fiscal year 2000 Cannon Mountain has spent $8 million more than it has generated.
According to the Concord Monitor, the DRED's Division of Parks and Recreation valued the 2,112 free senior lift tickets issued last year at $110,000. 135 seniors purchased the $39 midweek season pass.
The latest proposed changes come on the heels of a devastating state audit that revealed missing funds, eCommerce security problems, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in free and heavily discounted untraceable season passes given to unknown employee family and friends in 2014.
DRED is hoping yesterday's approval of the Mount Sunapee West Bowl expansion will help erase a growing deficit in Cannon's debt account, which has been in arrears since 2003. Cannon is reportedly preparing to request additional debt spending this off season.