House Kills Bill That Would Have Ended Free Senior Skiing at Cannon
State run Cannon Mountain's management supported the elimination of free senior skiing.
Friday, June 3, 2016,

The New Hampshire House Conference Committee has killed the controversial Senate Bill 441, which would have allowed Cannon's state management to charge resident seniors for lift tickets.

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee had previously amended SB 441 to strike the senior charge provision. Senate and House negotiators then reached a compromise that would have resulted in $5 midweek lift tickets for New Hampshire resident seniors. The House refused, with the Union Leader quoting one representative as saying the $5 ticket price would "would push Granny over the cliff."

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 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 Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) 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."

The SB 441 controversy is the latest in a series of well publicized Cannon Mountain issues in 2016, including the devastating state audit report, the tramway evacuation that made national headlines, and a skier fatality.

Cannon Forum, April 14, 2016
Cannon Forum, April 14, 2016

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