House Reinstates Free Skiing for Seniors at Cannon Mountain
State run Cannon Mountain's management supported the elimination of free senior skiing.
Thursday, May 12, 2016, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee has amended the controversial Senate Bill 441 by striking a provision that would have allowed Cannon's state management to charge seniors. The amended bill now returns to the Senate.
Representative Brad Bailey (R-Monroe) posted a message on Facebook thanking Rep. Mary Cooney (D-Plymouth), Rep. Erin Hennessey (R-Littleton), and Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) for preserving free senior citizen skiing.
The state owned and operated ski area currently provides free skiing to New Hampshire senior citizens on weekdays. 4,315 free senior lift and tram visits were recorded in 2015 at Cannon Mountain, which Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) valued at $196,355. Cannon Mountain was a net $304,867 cost to DRED in 2015.
The state management came under fire at a Cannon forum in April for quietly attempting to push through the elimination of free skiing. Rep. Bailey lashed out at the state management at the hearing, stating, "I will apologize for not seeing it until Wednesday. But I worked my darndest to try to get this done and defeated on the floor, with all due respect to what it is you�re trying to do."
The state is attempting to raise funds to cover large deficits and debt at Cannon Mountain, which had been a net cost of $8.5 to the state from 2000 to 2015. Early projections suggest Cannon was nearly $2 million in the red 2016, leaving the DRED with a major budgetary exposure.
At the April 14 hearing, DRED Commissioner Phillip Bryce supported SB 441 by stating, "The idea behind this bill is to have seniors pay something."
Cannon Mountain General Manager John DeVivo also spoke in favor of SB 441, stating it was "another step toward curbing the consistent, and some would say constant discussion about leasing the ski operations of Cannon Mountain."
Representative Rideout disagreed with DeVivo, stating "[s]ince this bill come to the House floor, I've had about ten representatives come to me and say, 'Why is the state in the ski business?' This has opened Pandora's Box again. You've submitted a bill and you've opened yourself up."