Editor’s note: This letter was edited by its author and resubmitted to reflect clarified details.
I am writing to thank the Camden Select Board for their actions at the Select Board meeting January 22 in instituting price reductions at the Snow Bowl for Camden residents.
As an enterprise account, the Camden Snow Bowl is structured to be self-supporting – surely a nightmare of a management job given the highly unpredictable nature of its reliance on weather and other uncontrollable circumstances. But when it falls short, Camden taxpayers make up the shortfall, which can be significant. In addition, Camden budgets $20,000 annually as a contribution to the Snow Bowl. Taxpayers are also paying over $100,000 annually on the $2 million bond that contributed to the redevelopment of the Ragged Mountain amenities. They pay the insurance policies. Also, the Camden Energy and Sustainability Committee is at wits-end to figure out how to offset the Snow Bowl’s electricity use, which amounts to 51% of the municipal electrical bills. Yet for years the only benefits offered to Camden residents had been a discount on an annual pass, an expense, even at reduced rates, which few can or choose to afford. We do love the Snow Bowl, but…
It would make sense for other towns to pitch in to support this valued regional amenity, as their residents surely do use it. But experience with managing the MCSW illustrates that such cooperation is fraught with its own challenges. Better to keep it simple. But how to make it right?
The Camden Select Board addressed this long-standing inequity to Camden taxpayers. They have instituted a new policy of providing free ski lift tickets Wednesdays to Camden residents effective immediately! In addition, starting next year (coming budget cycle), they will re-institute the two-hour, $16 weekday (Wednesday through Friday) ticket for all users, and, for Camden residents, a 25% reduction in ski lift tickets, while retaining the discount on season passes.
It is right that Camden taxpayers should receive a benefit for owning, managing, running and financially backing the Snow Bowl. The Board has provided means for Camdenites to afford to be able to use it as well.
I see their bold decisions as heroic!
Anita Brosius-Scott lives in Camden and was formerly a Select Board member.