Belknap lawmakers deny Gunstock borrowing requestBy BEA LEWIS
Union Leader Correspondent
June 11. 2018 9:28PM
LACONIA — Gunstock recreation area has been denied its request to borrow $600,000.
The Belknap County Delegation voted 9-6 on Friday to reject the Gunstock Area Commission’s request for borrowing via a revenue anticipation note to fund summer and fall operations until the loan can be repaid in February with revenue generated during the ski season.
“From a management perspective we’re working diligently to try and figure out how to navigate this summer and fall without that money. We’re absolutely not going to compromise the safety of our guests or employees and were going to try to make this as transparent to our customers as we can, as we try and weather the storm,” said Gunstock General Manager Greg Goddard on Monday.
Control of the recreation area, the largest employer in Belknap County, is under the authority of a five-member commission whose members are appointed by the delegation.
Legislation passed in 1959 set up the present management structure. It was enacted after the relationship between Fritzie Baer who had managed the ski area since 1950, and the Belknap County Commission, which had overseen its operation since it opened in 1937 soured. Baer was fired in 1959.
The commission needs the authority of the delegation to borrow because the real estate is county-owned. For the past 25 years, the commission has requested a RAN every year. Since 1998, the delegation has approved $17,950,000 in borrowing during that span, all of which has been repaid on time.
The measure needed a two-thirds majority to pass and fell just one vote shy. Representatives who opposed authorizing the borrowing were Rep. Barbara Comtois, R-Barnstead, Rep. Valerie Fraser, R-New Hampton, Rep. Ray Howard Jr., R-Alton, Rep. John Plumer, R-Belmont, Rep. Michael Sylvia, R-Belmont and Rep. Norm Silber, R-Gilford.
Rep. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, and Rep. Glen Aldrich, R-Gilford, were absent.
Rep. Howard has been vocal about his displeasure that the Gunstock Commission supports continued capital improvements that reduces its ability to build any reserves, requiring them to continue to seek RANs. The lawmaker has said he opposed the county being in the ski area business and believes the property should be leased to a private entity.
Gunstock Commission Chairman Steven Nix told the delegation during a May 25 meeting that the resort planned to draw $400,000 of the RAN in June and $200,000 in November. Without it, he said, the recreation area will be in the red through December.
Gunstock Mountain Resort’s strategic operating plan and budget for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2019, sets expenses at $11.3 million with projected revenues of $12.2 million, which includes debt service of $1.35 million.