Taxpayers for Cannon
Cannon Mountain Ski Area, New Hampshire
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Cannon to Eliminate Free Skiing for Seniors, April 29, 2016

With deficits and debt growing at Cannon Mountain, state management is pushing to end free skiing for state seniors.

North Country Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton) co-sponsored Senate Bill 441, stating "It is important to remember that Cannon Mountain Ski Area is in the red and a recent audit criticized the controls over the issuance of free and discount passes."

Cannon Mountain General Manager John DeVivo defended the bill, stating SB 441 is “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) opposes SB 441, telling Cannon management, "[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."

SB 441 has passed the Senate and is currently in the House.

DeVivo recently projected Cannon's revenue and skier visits would be down 33% in 2015-16, stating "We’re projected to finish the year in the red, no secret, I’m not going to lie to you there."

  • Elimination of Free Senior Skiing Comes Under Fire at Cannon Forum - News

  • Cannon FY14 Audit Cannon Rocked by State Audit, February 16, 2016

    The first state audit of Cannon in over a dozen years is making waves, revealing missing funds, credit card account security problems, and untraceable giveaways.

    Some troubling issues revealed about state management:
  • $50,000 in missing revenue, over half of which could not be recovered.
  • $800,000 in online credit card account sales being accessed by active employees using the account of a former employee.
  • Supervisors not overseeing their employees’ timecard submissions and paycheck duplication.
  • Overpaying over one third of its vendors.
  • No record of the over half a million dollars of free or discounted season passes given to employees, volunteers, and family members of Cannon, Centerplate, and Franconia Ski Club.
  • No record of the free day passes granted on verbal request.
  • Potential accounting and IRS issues and a lack of oversight of assets and inventory.
  • Only 43% of the Cannon Mountain 2001 audit issues were “Fully Resolved.”

  • Audit finds problems with Cannon Mountain Ski Area - Concord Monitor
  • Cannon Mountain Ski Area flagged during state audit when free ski pass issuance went undocumented - NH1 News
  • Cannon Mountain Audit Reveals Missing Funds, Lax E-Commerce Account Security, and Lack of Financial Oversight - News

  • ABC Good Morning America video of Cannon Tramway evacuation Tramway Evacuation Makes National Headlines, February 15, 2016

    Cannon Mountain is making national news today, as 48 people were evacuated from the aerial tramway Sunday afternoon following what is described as a brake issue.

    Cannon commenced evacuating people from the tramway some 90 minutes after the lift halted in sub zero temperatures. The final person was evacuated by rope nearly 3 hours after the stoppage.

    As of 7:30 AM Monday morning, over 100 media outlets across the country have picked up the story. ABC's Good Morning America obtained video of people being lowered from the tram by cable.

    New Hampshire taxpayers funded the construction of the $4.6 million lift in 1979, replacing the then-41 year old original tramway. New Hampshire taxpayers spent $1 million to repair the lift in 2001.

    Mittersill Goes Private, January 25, 2016

    The Mittersill Semi-Private Racing Complex will be living up to its name starting on Thursday. According to the Cannon snow report, "Baron's Run will be closed to the public this Thursday & Friday (1/28 & 1/29), as we'll be hosting a speed camp for up and coming ski racers from all over New England." With Baron's Run currently listed as the only open trail down Mittersill, this suggests the Mittersill chair, funded in part by the New Hampshire General Fund, will be operating on a private basis on these days.

    Meanwhile, the hoi polloi will be restricted to the main mountain, where Cannon is still struggling to open terrain. Even including Mittersill, Loon and Bretton Woods have 150% more terrain open than Cannon.

    Your tax dollars, hard at work.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 16, 2016 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, January 16, 2016

    With the second to last holiday weekend of the ski season here, minimal natural snowfall and a feeble snowmaking system has resulted in Cannon falling dramatically behind the state's other large ski areas. While Cannon has finally been able to cover some of its racing terrain, it has some of that terrain closed to the public, resulting in even less publicly available skiable acreage than advertised.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 12, 2016 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, January 12, 2016

    With vast amounts of the main mountain still closed, Cannon shifted its snowmaking focus to Mittersill on Monday. Despite claiming that "Cannon opened more trails in the past week than any other ski area in the region," Cannon has a fraction of the open terrain of its nearest competitors.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 3, 2016 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, January 3, 2016

    Despite spending millions in tax and donation dollars, Cannon's snowmaking system continues to be a disaster. Cannon is badly lagging behind major ski areas, while spraying water on customers. As of January 3, Cannon has one route from the summit and zero race training slopes open.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 31, 2015 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 31, 2015

    Despite millions of dollars of spending in recent years, Cannon's snowmaking system is still unable to keep up with areas a fraction of its size. Not only is Cannon not open top to bottom during the holiday week, but it still has yet to open a single racing training slope - despite the massive investment in the Mittersill Semi-Private Racing Facility.

    2014-15 Cannon Advertisement 2015-2016 Results Emerge, December 21, 2015

    A generous natural snowfall of 207 inches clocked in at 29% above average. Operations closed out at $338K in the black. Cannon proclaimed it "one of the best winters we've had in some time." On the surface, once again things seemed rosy for the year.

    However, after factoring in a record $643,382 in debt payments, Cannon was $304,867 in the red. In addition, the Cannon Capital Improvement Fund deficit increased to $332,614, up 6.5% since State Treasurer Catherine Provencher declared the account 'bleeding' in 2013. On top of that, Cannon added another $750,000 in new debt.

    Meanwhile, Cannon has tapped into new taxpayer sources for funding in fiscal year 2015-16, including $150,715 in federal funds.

    Since fiscal year 2000, Cannon has spent $8 million more than it has generated. If the 2015-16 ski season does not turnaround soon, taxpayers will be paying an even greater price for government subsidized skiing.

    Your tax dollars New State and Federal Spending at Cannon, September 3, 2015

    The "privately" funded Mittersill Semi-Private Racing Facility expansion was seen by some to be "too good to be true." With some area residents complaining about the massive 300-400 foot swath cut up the mountain this summer, the state has been lining up additional government funds to attempt to complete the privately funded project.

    On August 26, 2015, Governor Hassan and the Executive Council (with Chris Sununu recusing himself due to his involvement at Waterville Valley) approved $625,000 in new debt for Cannon and Mittersill projects, including snowmaking and grooming equipment because "Mittersill expansion and a two-mtn snowmaking system, requires the Snowmaking department to utilize a far more heavy duty utility cat to support its own operations."

    Also on August 26, the Governor and Executive Council (with Sununu recusing himself) approved $49,385 in state general capital funds to complete the snowmaking dam project started by Franconia Ski Club.

    On September 1, 2015, Governor Hassan announced $150,716 in federal funds from the Northern Border Regional Commission had been awarded to Cannon and the Franconia Ski Club for their Mittersill racing work.

    $825,551 in new government funding at Cannon in just one week's time.

    Just a drop in the bucket, as Cannon wants $1 million next year for a new snowmaking pumphouse.

    We're never coming here again - #CannonIsMine Advertisement Let Me Give You a Little Advice: Avoid Cannon., February 14, 2015
    In one of the most bizarre uses of tax dollars in recent memory, Cannon has started the #CannonIsMine advertising campaign, which each television spot featuring actors encouraging people not to go to Cannon.

    The Anchor Line produced ads are the cornerstone of the 2015 marketing campaign led by the partisan Glen Group/Drive Brand Studio out of Conway, which is paid a quarter of a million dollars from Cannon each year. To their credit, it appears to capture the opinion of diehard "Cannonistas" who want to continue to see state subsidies (such as $600,000 every year from Mt. Sunapee, as well as over $1.5 million from the General Fund four years ago) flow to Cannon, while keeping crowds away.

    #CannonIsMine Commercial 1
    Are you just learning too? You're in the wrong place. James and I just took lessons and they were terrible. They didn't teach us how to turn, or how to stop.
    Ya, it was awful.
    It was a nightmare. At one point, they just pushed me off the lift and said, 'only the strong survive.'
    After our lesson, we just wanted to leave.
    Ya, don't go.
    We're never coming here again.

    #CannonIsMine Commercial 2
    You're not planning on going skiing today, are you? I'd avoid it if I was you.
    I don't know what clown's in charge of snowmaking, but the coverage is sketchy at best.
    Ya, whoever grooms those trails shouldn't be allowed to drive my lawnmower.
    It's a mess.
    We should just ski someplace else. You think they bought it?
    Smooth, Carl, really smooth.

    #CannonIsMine Commercial 3
    Hey, you look like you could shred. Let me give you a little advice: avoid Cannon.
    It's never been well maintained, but lately the conditions have really gone downhill.
    And the terrain? Boring. There's nothing to explore.
    If I were you, I'd stick to some of the other mountains. You're welcome.

    Meanwhile, in Concord:
    "This is a tight budget that reflects difficult choices." - Governor Maggie Hassan, February 12, 2015

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 5, 2015 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, January 5, 2015

    "Thanks to snowmaking capacity improvements during the off season," Cannon is dramatically behind other major areas in the region in terms of terrain open. Of the terrain open, terrible reviews have been coming back about dangerously icy conditions. Yet, government management plans to further spread the limited snowmaking firepower to cover Mittersill next year.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 28, 2014 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 28, 2014

    Cannon never ceases to amaze, spraying water on guests all day on Friday, December 26 in above freezing temperatures, just to claim to be the only ski area in the state 'making snow.' Meanwhile, without a bounty of recent natural snow, Cannon has the least amount of terrain open of any major ski area in the Whites.

    Yet, state management plans to spread out an already feeble snowmaking system to cover the semi-private racing trails at Mitterstill next year.

    The Front 16 (formerly the Front 5) on December 25, 2014 Holiday Blowtorch, December 25, 2014

    After a plentiful cumulative snowfall of nearly four feet, Cannon's early season fairy tale evaporated away on Christmas Eve. Reports state the Front 16 (formerly known as the Front 5) is looking particularly rough.

    Will Cannon still brag about having the most trails open in the state tomorrow? Will more natural snow come soon, or will Cannon be forced to rely on its antiquated snowmaking system?

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 18, 2014 Cannon Core Math - Trail Counts, December 18, 2014

    Despite three and a half feet of natural snowfall season to date, Cannon has been unable to open to the summit yet, making it the only major ski area in the state skiing on only its lower mountain. Yet, government management is claiming it has the most trails open in New Hampshire, redefiniting the evolving paradigm of "trails."

    According to Cannon Core Math, a "trail" is about two acres of snow covered ground. According to Cannon Math, a single isolated glade can be counted as three trails. According to Cannon Core Math, a crossover can be split into multiple "trails." According to Cannon Core Math, a skier can end up on a dozen more more "trails" when skiing a normal top to bottom run. Except, that scenario has been impossible so far this season, due to Cannon's feeble snowmaking system.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 16, 2014 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 16, 2014

    Despite three feet of natural snowfall season to date, Cannon has been unable to open to the summit yet, making it the only major ski area in the state skiing on only its lower mountain. State management plans to operate its antiquated snowmaking equipment during the week to attempt to get the summit open in time for the last weekend before Christmas.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 7, 2014 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 7, 2014

    While Cannon was able to get a good jump on the season (opening November 28) due to cold temperatures and natural snowfall (over 2 feet season to date), it has already fallen behind most major and mid sized ski areas in the across state in terms of terrain open.

    Perhaps Decembers will go more smoothly when the already overburdened pre-historic snowmaking plant is stretched to cover the semi-private racing complex at Mittersill next year.

    Explosives used outside the work area Work and Damage Outside of Mittersill Improvement Project Scope, September 16, 2014

    Three weeks into "Phase I of the Mittersill improvement project," surprising discoveries have been made outside of the work area. While the state has claimed the project will only involve Baron's Run, Skyline, and the T-Bar superslope, significant changes have been noted elsewhere.

    In one instance, explosives have been used on a trail between Skyline and the liftline, leaving large granite blocks and charge wires on the Mittersill-Cannon Hiking Trail.

    In another instance, large machinery ascended the historic Taft Trail above the top of the double chairlift and apparently got stuck, leaving three foot deep ruts in its wake.

    Deep ruts on the Taft Trail above the Mittersill Double Chairlift

    Your tax dollars More Cannon Debt!, August 10, 2014

    As the 2014-15 season approaches, ski areas across New England are announcing capital improvements. According to WMUR, the State of New Hampshire is spending $2 million dollars on "improvements" at Cannon Mountain, including "Phase I of the Mittersill improvement project which involves trail work and expansion and a new snowmaking compressor."

    On June 4, 2014, Governor Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council (with Chris Sununu recusing himself due to his involvement at Waterville Valley) approved $750,000 in new Cannon debt, to be financed by Mt. Sunapee lease payments.

    It is not clear if an additional $1.25 million has been spent in improvements, or from what account the State is funding it.

    Read more: Upgrades for 13 ski resorts taking place this summer - WMUR

    State Management Suggests End of Free Senior Skiing
    Darin Wipperman, Littleton Courier, March 5, 2014

    According to the Littleton Courier, at a recent hearing, Cannon's management suggested four decade tradition of free skiing for New Hampshire seniors should come to an end.

    "We need to behave like the marketplace," [State Parks and Recreation Commissioner Phil] Bryce suggested. "Now is the time to do that," as Bretton Woods, Attitash, Waterville Valley, and Loon do not provide free midweek tickets to all seniors.

    "With costs at about $5.8 million, DeVivo said, 'This is not cheap.'" Nor is letting the $2.7 million Mitterstill Double Chair sit idle for all but 10 days of the season thus far. Nor is the $7+ million of red ink generated from Cannon since 2000.

    As some may remember from lease discussions in the past, one often cited threat by pro-government-management advocates was that a private operator would likely end free senior skiing. In light of recent events, these individuals could not be reached for comment.

    Senate Bill 190 currently awaits a decision in the House.

    Read more: Four reps hear opposition to Cannon pricing change for seniors - Littleton Courier

    Snow, Snow, Snow!, February 18, 2014

    As has been the pattern in recent years, Cannon has once again seen significant February snowfall. In fact, during the first half of February, the Mitterstill chairlift ended up opening for three days to interesting reviews (such as the horror of seeing the damage on one's skis after attempting to ski there).

    Since then, Cannon has reported multiple feet of snow, bringing their advertised season to date snowfall figure to 10 feet.

    Will the egregious spending finally stop? Will the capital account deficit be paid off? Will Cannon finally free itself from the Sunapee lease payment slush fund and become truly self-funded?

    The Mitterstill Chair on February 1, 2014 Did Mitterstill See Its Shadow?, February 2, 2014

    While Cannon is reporting "77 inches" of snowfall this season, the Mitterstill Chairlift's January streak of idleness reached three years. Perhaps a more efficient use of the $2.7 million installation cost would have been to mulch 2.7 one dollar bills into a skiable surface.

    Did the Mitterstill Chairlift see its shadow? Will it get 6 weeks of winter this year? If so, it will be the makings of a record season! Until then, taxpayers and skiers alike cross their fingers for some more natural snow.

    The Mitterstill Chair on January 26, 2014 Mitter-still Closed, January 26, 2014

    Despite Cannon reporting "11 inches" of new snow this week, the $2.7 million taxpayer funded Mitterstill Chairlift remains closed.

    The Mitterstill Chair on January 20, 2014 Mitterstill Chairlift Idle, January 20, 2014

    Despite having nearly 2 inches of fresh powder on the ground, the $2.7 million taxpayer funded Mitterstill Chairlift will not be open today.

    The Zoomer area on January 13, 2014 January Blah, January 13, 2014

    Cannon's feeble snowmaking system was on full display for folks heading southbound on I-93 at the end of the weekend, following the "January Thaw."

    Despite taking out nearly three quarters of a million dollars in new debt to fund snowmaking "improvements," Cannon's substandard skiing product was painfully visible to all. Some visitors to the area over the weekend commented that they were surprised to discover the ski area was open, due to large barespots and minimal cars in the parking lots.

    Government Snowmaking: the new Government Cheese.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 4, 2014 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, January 4, 2014

    With a reported 21 inches of upper mountain snowfall and a good effort by its Medieval snowmaking system this week, government run Cannon was able to significantly increase its open acreage, passing smaller areas that have reached 100% coverage with their modern snowmaking systems. Meanwhile, nearby areas such as Loon and Bretton Woods are offering over twice as much skiable terrain.

    In other news, the $2.7 million Mittersill chair continues to sit idle, jeopardizing its New Year's Resolution to operate more than a handful of days in a season.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 28, 2013 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 28, 2013

    The good news? Cannon has finally opened a top to bottom run, two days after Christmas. Additional good news? A few new inches of powder have fallen from the sky. The bad news? Cannon is still offering a fraction of what most other ski areas in the state are offering, thanks in large part to its feeble snowmaking system. As the old saying goes, "give a government ski area with terrible snowmaking $3 million and they'll fix the problem by purchasing a lift that never runs."

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 21, 2013 Standing Headline - Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 21, 2013

    Now heading into Christmas Week, Cannon is falling further behind the pack. Despite three quarters of a million dollars in new taxpayer debt in 2013, Cannon's Victorian Era snowmaking system was unable to capitalize on a near-record cold snap. As has been the case for three years in a row, Cannon has failed to open the upper mountain by the start of calendar winter.

    For the sake of skiers and taxpayers alike, let's hope 2014 brings above average snowfall to help "stop the bleeding" at Cannon.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on December 7, 2013 Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 7, 2013

    Now one week into December, Cannon is continuing to lag behind the pack. Despite taking out another three quarters of a million dollars in state debt to slap some new equipment into its prehistoric snowmaking system, Cannon has less terrain open than areas in milder Southern New Hampshire.

    Unless there is adequate natural snowfall, Cannon, its skiers, and New Hampshire taxpayers will all suffer.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on November 30, 2013 Cannon Opens for 2013-2014, November 30, 2013

    Cold weather is once again here, meaning that Cannon has pulled their snowmaking equipment out of the Smithsonian Museum, leaving a void between the Telegraph and Betamax exhibits. Despite near record snowmaking opportunities (resulting in ski areas opening in Connecticut and Massachusetts) and the most abundant snowmaking water supply in New England, Cannon once again lags behind the pack.

    Unless there is adequate natural snowfall, Cannon, its skiers, and New Hampshire taxpayers will all suffer.

    Your tax dollars 2012-2013 Results Emerge, November 5, 2013

    A generous natural snowfall of 203 inches clocked in at 27% above average. Operations less debt payments closed out at nearly $180K in the black. On the surface, things seemed rosy for the year.

    However, before the $180K was even closed out, Cannon added another $717,000 in debt. Not only that, but Cannon's prior debt service soared to a record $642,357. Even with a small transfer from its operational surplus, the Cannon Capital Improvement Fund deficit soared to $312,371, further bleeding State Treasurer Catherine Provencher warned of in April.

    Meanwhile, Cannon's antiquated snowmaking and lift infrastructure continues to age. Cannon's slow-motion snowmaking system requires significant natural snowfall to disguise its gross inadequacies. In addition, aside from its idle Mittersill Boondoggle Double, most of Cannon's primary lifts are over 20 years old. Big expenses may be right around the corner, further taxing an already shaky New Hampshire state budget.

    A sign prohibiting entry to the top of the Mittersill-Cannon Trail New Hiking Trail Opens to Little Fanfare and Significant Confusion, October 3, 2013

    Thanks to pressure from the New Hampshire State Senate and the Director of the Division of Parks and Recreation, limited off-season foot access was restored to the Mittersill area. Unfortunately for hiking taxpayers, the opening of the trail was a well-kept secret. In addition, the top of the marked trail greets hikers with a sign saying they cannot enter.

    A Cautionary Figure from Ski NH, June 26, 2013

    In a recent press release from the state's ski area association, Ski NH, it was disclosed that, "[s]ince 2000, New Hampshire has recorded 8 of their top 10 ski seasons showing the success and growth of skiing and snowboarding in the Granite State." A contributing factor during most of these seasons has been above average snowfall. As veteran ski area managers know, extended stretches with poor years can also happen, such as the early 1970s through the mid 1980s.

    Cannon Mountain performance, 2003-2012

    While Cannon has been able to cover its operational costs during many of these recent above average winters, the debt burden it has offloaded onto other accounts continues to grow. Despite a well above average winter, an additional $717,000 in Cannon debt will be added in 2013.

    What will happen at Cannon when New England has its inevitable next stretch of poor winters? Can the State of New Hampshire sustain anymore red ink from Cannon?

    Understanding the Flow of Money, May 7, 2013

    The flow of money in and out of Cannon Mountain is quite confusing for those not familiar with government accounting. Some use the confusion around various accounts involving Cannon to paint a rosier picture than reality. To illustrate the flow of money at Cannon via the official documents available today (there are significant hidden Cannon costs recognized elsewhere that have yet to be quantified), the following charts have been created for the most recent three seasons:

    Cannon Mountain Ski Area Cash Flow Chart

    Cannon Mountain Ski Area Cash Flow Chart

    Cannon Mountain Ski Area Cash Flow Chart

    Official: NH should pay off Cannon's capital fund deficit
    Shawne Wickham, Union Leader, May 5, 2013

    State Treasurer Catherine Provencher is recommending that lawmakers "stop the bleeding" and pay off a $372,000 deficit in the Cannon Mountain Capital Improvement Fund.

    That fund - which is separate from Cannon's operating fund - pays for principal and interest on bonds issued for capital projects at the state-owned ski area in Franconia Notch State Park. There is currently a $372,000 shortfall in the account, and "it's projected that the deficit will continue to grow," Provencher told the New Hampshire Sunday News.

    Read more: Official: NH should pay off Cannon's capital fund deficit - Union Leader

    New Hampshire Treasurer Discloses Cannon Deficit; Recommends Legislative Action, April 12, 2013

    Deficits and debt dominated the conversation as the Cannon Mountain Advisory Commission met on Friday, April 12, 2013. New Hampshire Treasurer Catherine A. Provencher reviewed with the commission the Cannon Mountain Capital Improvement Fund and its projected $372,097 accumulated deficit at the end of fiscal year 2013.

    "There needs to be a plan to stop the bleeding," said Provencher, adding that there "needs to be a plan to cover the deficit."

    Since the creation of the Cannon Mountain Capital Improvement Fund and its initial bond, millions of dollars of additional debt have been added to the account. The debt is currently financed by revenue from the Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort lease.

    As the result of Treasurer Provencher's presentation, the commission unanimously voted to send a recommendation to the General Court to have a provision added in HB2 to use Cannon Mountain operational proceeds to cover future annual deficits in the account, as well as to help pay down the accumulated deficit. Further discussion included the use of Sunapee lease proceeds at Cannon, as well how Cannon operational profits are allocated. Due to its operational losses in fiscal year 2012, Cannon was unable to provide the $650,000 budgeted to the Parks Department, or the $50,000 earmarked for Search and Rescue. The ski area hopes to provide funds for the fiscal year 2013 budget.

    The Commission unanimously approved the ski area's request for $717,000 in new debt for 2013 capital projects, including $400,000 in snowmaking upgrades, $167,000 in facility and electrical upgrades, and $150,000 for a new haul rope for the Peabody Express chairlift.

    Cannon Mountain General Manager John DeVivo provided an update on Cannon's 2012-2013 season performance, during which the ski area's natural snowfall has been 25% above average. A rough estimate of an operational profit of $750,000-900,000 was provided, citing a 25% increase in skier visits and a 22% increase in revenue over fiscal year 2012. Expenses were expected due be down year to year, backed by energy efficiency increases, as well as sizable rebates from PSNH (including a $33,000 rebate for one new snowgun purchased by the state for $55,000).

    Also at the meeting, General Manager DeVivo announced the semi-private Mittersill Racing Expansion had been approved by the Governor and Executive Council and was moving forward with fundraising and permitting. Concerns were voiced in regard to potential delays in the snowmaking aspect of the project, as water would be taken out of the Pemigewasset River watershed and moved to the Connecticut River watershed. A planned agreement to move 65 acres in the park to Bicknell's Thrush Habitat, in exchange for upper mountain clearing on the Baron's Run and Skyline Trail, was also disclosed. State Senator Jeb Bradley asked about potential wind impact of the planned racing super slope on skiing and snowmaking conditions, to which General Manager DeVivo said it has not been a concern.

    Phil Bryce, Director of the Division of Parks and Recreation, provided an update on illegal ski trail building in the Mittersill Bicknell's Thrush Habitat, stating the Parks Division will have a ranger on site to catch and prosecute those involved.

    2012-2013 Is Officially Above Average, March 16, 2013

    Now checking in at 164 inches of snowfall this season, Cannon is officially above its 160 inch average. Will Cannon finally "turn the corner" and end up in the black this season? Or will Cannon once again require over $600,000 in state subsidies to pay its bills?

    Meanwhile, the $2.7 million Mittersill chairlift sits idle, with the tramway scheduled to join it in a few days.

    Banner Month for Mittersill!, March 1, 2013

    Taxpayers are getting their money's worth out of their $2,631,490 double chairlift! The Mittersill double chairlift operated for 7 days in February 2013, a dramatic increase over 0 days in January, as well as 5.5 days in all of 2012.

    Happy days are here again!

    Legislative Ethics Issue 'Slippery Slope'
    Concord Monitor, February 10, 2013

    As published in the February 10, 2013 Concord Monitor, lawmakers are attempting to restore free skiing privleges at Cannon Mountain.

    "In the Legislative Ethics Committee Advisory Opinion, attorney Martin Gross writes that the free lift tickets meet the definition of a gift barred by ethics rules, unless the Legislature carves out a specific exemption for them."

    "This year, Berlin Democratic Gary Coulombe has introduced a bill carving out just such an exemption. Under HB 514, which has Republican and Democratic cosponsors, House and Senate members would be allowed to accept free passes to Cannon from the director of parks and recreation."

    "Free lift tickets aren’t a big deal, but they are a conflict of interest. Elected officials should not be receiving gifts from organizations seeking their financial support, even if they are from another branch of government."

    "Since 1999, we’ve leased out operations at Mount Sunapee Ski Area and used the proceeds to pay for capital improvements at Cannon. Those projects have helped turn Cannon around, and the mountain actually turned an operational profit for the first time two years ago. It lost money again last winter. Since 1999, we’ve poured more than $9.2 million in public money into Cannon Mountain. If we leased out Cannon operations like Sunapee, those subsidies could go to New Hampshire’s smaller, unfunded state parks."

    "We would never put up with lawmakers getting free passes at Cranmore or Bretton Woods. Favors from a state agency, dependant on the budget they write, is an even bigger conflict."

    Read more: Legislative ethics going down a slippery slope - Concord Monitor

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on February 1, 2013 Cannon Continues to Lag Behind the Pack, February 1, 2013

    Yet another standing headline - Cannon Continues to Lag Behind the Pack. February is here and yet again, Cannon's lack of snowmaking ability once again has it at the bottom of the pack in terms of skiable acreage, despite being one of the largest ski areas in the state. To top it off, Cannon is boasting that "February is off to a great start."

    Cannon's Peabody Area, 01/31/2013

    The Mittersill Chair, 01/31/2013 Mittersill Chairlift Sits Idle, January 31, 2013

    It's a standing headline - the Mittersill Chairlift Sits Idle.

    In 2010, the State of New Hampshire purchased the most expensive double chairlift in New England Ski History - the Mittersill Double Chair. Installed in an area without snowmaking, this $2,631,490 lift opened on January 1, 2011 for one day. Due to lack of natural snow, it was then closed until mid-January of 2011. In 2011-2012, the lift only operated for 5.5 days.

    With the 2012-2013 season half over, the only thing the Mittersill chairlift has done is collect dust. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 19, 2013 Another Holiday Weekend Struggle?, January 19, 2013

    The second to last holiday weekend of the season is here and government owned and operated Cannon Mountain continues to be at the bottom of the pack amongst major and mid-sized New Hampshire ski areas in terms of terrain open, despite having the highest elevation and claiming nearly 6 feet of natural snowfall.

    Despite taking millions of dollars from taxpayers in recent years (including $3 million for double chairlift that has operated 5.5 days in the past 21 months), Cannon has yet to modernize its snowmaking system. Rather than being further stretched out to cover Mittersill (as proposed by the management), Cannon's antiquated and underpowered snowmaking system belongs in the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.

    New Hampshire Ski Area Terrain Open on January 14, 2013 Wipeout!, January 14, 2013

    After claiming some interesting "open" terrain for a few weeks, government owned and operated Cannon Mountain fell back to reality with the recent thaw.

    Despite taking millions of dollars from taxpayers in recent years (including $3 million for double chairlift that has operated 5.5 days in the past 21 months), Cannon has yet to modernize its snowmaking system. While areas across the state have spent the season building base depths, Cannon has struggled to keep multiple routes open from each lift. Rather than being further stretched out to cover Mittersill (as proposed by the management), Cannon's antiquated and underpowered snowmaking system belongs in the Marconi Museum.

    A frustrated Cannon skier sent us the following photos:
    Cannon's Front Five, January 14, 2013 Mittersill January 14, 2013

    The Mittersill Chair, 03/18/2012 2012 In Review, January 1, 2013

    Another year has come and gone, but many of the same problems at Cannon remain, some of them snowballing.

  • The red ink continued to increase, with 2011-2012 results showing $906,296 net cost to the state.
  • The $2.7 million Mittersill chairlift operated a grand total of 5.5 days in 2012. Despite claiming 4 feet of natural snowfall in December 2012, it has yet to operate this season.
  • Until receiving the alleged 4 feet of natural snowfall, Cannon had barely any open terrain. Yet, in 2012 Cannon endorsed a plan to turn Mittersill into a semi-private racing area and further overextend its already limited snowmaking resources to the 'backcountry' trail pod.
  • Reports are quickly spreading of significant lift outages and personnel issues affecting operations.

  • Would Cannon management still have the gall to publish statewide op-eds calling the ski area a self-funded, self-managed, State-owned success story today?

    Ski AreaAcres Open (12/24)
    Bretton Woods225
    Pats Peak50
    Source: SnoCountry and resort web sites, 12/24/2012
    Cannon Continues to Lag Behind the Pack, December 24, 2012

    The holiday week is here and government owned and operated Cannon Mountain continues to be in last place amongst major and mid-sized New Hampshire ski areas in terms of terrain open, despite having the highest elevation and claiming nearly 3 feet of natural snowfall.

    Despite taking millions of dollars from taxpayers in recent years (including $3 million for double chairlift that has operated 5.5 days in the past 20 months), Cannon has yet to modernize its snowmaking system. Rather than being further stretched out to cover Mittersill (as proposed by the management), Cannon's antiquated and underpowered snowmaking system belongs next to the 1903 Wright Brothers' Flyer in the Smithsonian.

    Cannon Lags Behind the Pack, December 18, 2012

    Similar to the 2011-2012 season, Cannon has once again shrugged off conventional big-mountain-snowmaking-strategy, instead opting for a bottom-to-top snowmaking strategy. Thanks to an antiquated snowmaking system, Cannon continues to be the only major ski area in the state to not be open top to bottom.

    Despite this, Cannon management continues to push its plan to further spread its already weak snowmaking firepower over to Mittersill, to cover a semi-private racing facility.

    Cannon Opens, November 30, 2012

    It took two weeks of snowmaking, but Cannon has finally opened with two lower mountain chairlifts and three trails, serving 29% of the vertical drop. Bretton Woods, Waterville Valley, and Loon have been in open for well over a week, with the latter two operating top to bottom.

    Mittersill Terrain Area Enhancement Project, October 11, 2012

    Mittersill Terrain Area Enhancement Project compare - click to enlarge A map of the proposed Mittersill Terrain Area Enhancement Project has been released, showing the scope of the $3 million project.
  • Two significant areas will be cleared - the Baron's Run will be widened for top to bottom (to be closed to the public for racing up to 15% of the time) and the middle section will be turned into a massive slope (to be closed to the public for racing use up to 50% of the time).
  • A T-Bar lift would be added, roughly following the same size as the second Mittersill T-Bar.
  • Snowmaking would be added to Baron's Run, Skyline, and the new slalom slope.
  • Nightly grooming would be commenced.
  • Franconia Ski Club would "donate" $3 million to fund the construction.
  • New Hampshire taxpayers would be on the hook for lift, snowmaking, grooming, ski patrol, and maintenance labor costs, as well as lift, snowmaking, and grooming labor costs, and any added insurance costs.

  • View the before and after photo (JPG) and map (PDF)

    Greens fees, lift tickets, courtesy of taxpayers
    Grant Bosse, Concord Monitor, September 30, 2012

    "Cannon’s apparent turnaround was financed by profits at Mount Sunapee. Those lease payments have generated $5.8 million to pay for Cannon’s capital improvements. If we add this subsidy to the money Cannon has lost over the years, it’s in the hole for $7.75 million. In fact, 2011 is the only year in which Cannon’s profits were greater than its Sunapee subsidies.

    "If Cannon can return to profitability, lawmakers may want to consider letting Cannon Mountain stand on its own by paying for its own capital budget. The Sunapee lease payments could then be redirected to support smaller parks around the state."

    Read more: Greens fees, lift tickets, courtesy of taxpayers - Concord Monitor

    Fiscal Year 2011 vs. Fiscal Year 2012 Fiscal Year 2012 Results Begin to Emerge, September 25, 2012

    Three months after the close of the 2012 fiscal year, unaudited results have been released.

    Cannon Mountain Ski Area:
  • $293,591 operational loss
  • $612,705 in debt payments (not included in operational books)
  • $906,296 cost to state in fiscal year 2012
  • $7 million cost to state over past decade
  • 90,384 skier visits (decline of 40,568 visits or 31%, compared to statewide decline of 20%)

  • Read more: Cannon Mountain Ski Area Financials

    DRED Comissioner George Bald Steps Down
    Associated Press, August 17, 2012

    "New Hampshire's commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development is retiring after serving nearly 13 years.

    "George Bald has submitted a letter to Gov. John Lynch. He is retiring as of Nov. 1."

    Read more: NH economic development commissioner resigning - Concord Monitor

    The Sky Line Trail, 06/2012 Mittersill Environmental Damage Continues Unmitigated in 2012, July 2, 2012

    Despite assurances from Cannon officials during legislative hearings that erosion damage would be mitigated, no new efforts have been undertaken as of end of June, 2012. Such damage requires more snow to cover trails for skiing. As recently announced in spring of 2012, Cannon is looking to accept a "gift" of funds for a snowmaking installation at Mittersill. Taxpayers would be on the hook to pay for electricity, fuel, and labor to operate and maintain such equipment (which may be needed in part to cover washouts with snow).

    See more: Cannon Mountain Ski Area Environmental Damage - June 2012 Update

    More Spending Proposed at Cannon
    Paula Tracy, Union Leader, May 7, 2012

    After operating Mittersill for 5.5 days last season, Cannon is requesting additional funding, both in terms of capital from the Franconia Ski Club, as well as new snowmaking, grooming, and lift operating costs to be paid by state taxpayers.

    "The Franconia Ski Club, Holderness School and friends of Cannon Mountain are raising the funds necessary for snowmaking, a T-bar lift, trail enhancement and perhaps lighting on portions of Mittersill."

    "Barron's Run would be an approved giant slalom and short Super G course and Mittersill's Taft Slope would be approved for slalom and giant slalom, with night lighting and a T-bar in the center of the mountain."

    Cannon Mountain's Mittersill area: redefining the meaning of "back-country."

    Read more: Plans unveiled for Mittersill upgrade - Union Leader

    SB 217 Passed by Senate
    Taxpayers for Cannon, March 22, 2012

    SB 217 was passed by the New Hampshire State Senate on Wednesday. The bill:
  • Requires the development a master plan for Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch state park including recommendations on whether or not the ski operations of Cannon Mountain should be leased to a private entity.
  • Initiates development of a Veterans Memorial with private funds.
  • Opens a hiking corridor over Mittersill Peak to the summit of Cannon Mountain.

  • The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

    The Mittersill Chair, 03/18/2012 Mittersill Winter Round-up, March 18, 2012

    The last weekend of the winter of 2011-2012 has come and gone. As was the case every weekend, the Mittersill chairlift sat idle.

    Season to date, the Mittersill double chairlift operated a grand total of 5.5 days. The total depreciation expense in 2012 was $131,575 - for 5.5 days of running empty. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

    The Mittersill Chair, 03/11/2012 Mittersill Chairlift Sits Idle, March 11, 2012

    A standing headline this season - the Mittersill chairlift once again sat idle this weekend, despite claims that "[t]his winter was good to Cannon" at To date, the taxpayer funded $2.6 million has operated 5.5 days this season. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

    Despite Dwindling Snow, Mittersill Chairlift Continues to Operate for No One, March 8, 2012

    Despite minimal snowpack melting away to grass, and despite virtually no riders all week, the Mittersill Chairlift continues to operate.

    The Mittersill Chair, 03/05/2012 Mittersill Chairlift Reopens, Skiers Avoid, March 5, 2012

    Thanks to 3" of new snow at the base, the $2.6 million Mittersill chairlift reopened on Monday, March 5 for its second day of operation this season. Many times thoughout the day, there were more employees operating the lift than skiers riding it.

    The Mittersill Chair, 03/03/2012 Mittersill Chairlift Opens, Then Closes, March 3, 2012

    By pushing a snowbank into the loading area of the chairlift, Cannon was able to open the $2.6 million Mittersill Double for the first time this season on Friday, March 2. Due to ramp work, the chairlift had a "delayed" opening.

    Due to rain and winds, the chairlift, and the rest of the ski area, did not open on Saturday, March 3. It is not known if there are enough snowbanks available to push onto the bottom of the slope to cover the grass and bare ground for further operations.

    The Mittersill Chair, 02/25/2012 Mittersill Chairlift Sits Idle, February 25, 2012

    Presidents Week 2012, the last holiday period of the ski season, is almost over. Even after '5 to 9 inches of new snow,' and '94 inches' season to date, the Mittersill Double Chairlift has not operated a single day.

    Your $2,631,490 double chairlift, hard at work.

    The Mittersill Chair, 02/17/2012 Mittersill Chairlift Sits Idle, February 17, 2012

    In 2010, the State of New Hampshire purchased the most expensive double chairlift in New England Ski History - the Mittersill Double Chair. Installed in an area without snowmaking, this $2,631,490 lift opened on January 1, 2011 for one day. Due to lack of natural snow, it was then closed until mid-January of 2011.

    Fast forward to the 2011-2012 season. At the start of the last holiday week of the ski season, the lift has not operated a single day. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

    SB 217 Committee Hearing
    Taxpayers for Cannon, February 9, 2012

    At today's SB217 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing:

  • Cannon Management admitted the Mittersill damage mitigation has not been sufficient and that more work needs to be done. All non-heavy equipment work will be completed by July. Any heavy equipment-required work will take place after August 1.
  • Cannon Management supports hiking corridors, but is opposed to winter and spring time foot use.
  • Cannon Management may accept $1.5M to $2M from the Franconia Ski Club in exchange for building a snowmaking-equipped racing trail on Mittersill.
  • Cannon Management is against a Request For Information for potential lease interest.
  • Cannon Management admitted that it is not "truly self funded," as it relies upon funds from Mt. Sunapee and the State to offset capital costs.

  • The audio of the hearing can be found on the SB 0217 Media Page.

    State parks fees increased
    Grant Bosse, Union Leader, February 2, 2012

    "CONCORD — It will cost a dollar more to go to some of most popular state parks and five more to camp this summer under fee hikes approved by the Legislature.

    "Day use admission will go from $4 to $5 per adult at some lake beaches, the hour meter rate at Hampton will go from $1.75 to $2, and it will cost on average about $5 more a night for campers needing hook-ups under the fee package approved by Senate Fiscal Committee Jan. 20.

    "State parks estimate it will help raise $388,280 more for the 72 parks, which are operationally self-funded, have a backlog of deferred maintenance and are in an operating deficit."

    Read more: State parks fees increased - Union Leader

    Cannon Mountain has been subsidized with an average of over $500,000 per year from Mount Sunapee lease revenue. If Cannon Mountain were truly self-funded, the Mount Sunapee lease revenue could have been used to cover the fee increase and additional deferred maintenance.

    Cannon Mountain and Natural Snowfall
    Taxpayers for Cannon, February 1, 2012

    With the 2011-2012 season half over, winter weather has been lacking in New England.

    Over the past four seasons, Cannon Mountain has received significantly more snow than its 160" advertised average. How did Cannon perform financially duringits most recent above average (2010-11, the second highest snowfall on record), average (2006-07), and below average (2005-06) winters?

    Cannon Mountain performance in above average, average, and below average snowfall
    Cannon Financial Perform in Above Average, Average, and Below Average Winters - Click to Enlarge

    SB 217 Committee Hearing Announced
    Taxpayers for Cannon, January 31, 2012

    The New Hampshire State Senate will be holding a public committee hearing on SB217 on Thursday, February 9th.

    According to the January 31st Union Leader, State Senator "Bradley said Monday he plans to amend the bill, which has several components, but the intent is to set up a twostep, transparent process to evaluate whether it first makes sense to lease the mountain, and if it does, to put it out to bid.

    "The bill also has several other parts seeking to rename Franconia Notch State Park to Franconia Notch Veterans Memorial State Park and to develop a plan for a new memorial in the park. Currently none exists, despite the original purpose of the park, Bradley said. Veterans service organizations could build a memorial on a flat, picturesque area near the Tramway building — using private funds — and the state would pay for the landscaping."

    The full article is available in the print version of the January 31, 2011 Union Leader.

    Continued Coverage of Legislative Ethics Committee Cannon Free Skiing Finding
    Union Leader, January 22, 2012

    "No wonder the privatization of Cannon Mountain meets with such resistance among New Hampshire legislators. They are skiing there, for free. That assessment may not be totally fair. Some legislators may actually have good reasons for opposing privatization of the state-owned and run mountain. But the perception of one hand washing the other is very much the conclusion people will draw from this freebie, and who can blame them?"

    "In fact, Cannon has been giving free lift tickets not just to each legislator who wants one, but to a “guest” each day as well. No wonder the number of free ski days at Cannon doubled in the last six years. Cannon, as it happens, also is one of the state’s finest ski areas."

    Read more: Downhill ethics: Free skiing at Cannon, for some - Union Leader

    The Mittersill Chair, 01/19/2012 Mittersill Chairlift Sits Idle, January 19, 2012

    In 2010, the State of New Hampshire purchased the most expensive double chairlift in New England Ski History - the Mittersill Double Chair. Installed in an area without snowmaking, this $2,631,490 lift opened on January 1, 2011 for one day. Due to lack of natural snow, it was then closed until mid-January of 2011.

    Fast forward to the 2011-2012 season. As of January 19, 2012, the lift has not operated a single day this season. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

    Legislative Ethics Committee Ends Free Skiing for State Legislators, January 15, 2012

    As published in the January 15, 2012 Union Leader, "the long-standing custom of lawmakers and their guests skiing for free at Cannon Mountain is against the law, according to a Legislative Ethics Committee advisory opinion."

    In the previous two ski seasons alone, State Representatives, State Senators, and their guests received the equivalent of $24,295 in (free) lift tickets.

    Senate Bill 217 Regarding Cannon Mountain Introduced, January 4, 2012

    New Hampshire State Senate Bill 217 has been introduced by Senator Jeb Bradley, co-sponsored by Representative David Bettencourt, Representative Kenneth Weyler, Senator Sharon Carson, Senator Gary Lambert, Senator Tom De Blois, Senator Jim Luther, Senator John Barnes, Jr., Senator James Forsythe, Senator Andy Sanborn, and Senator David Boutin.

    The bill would:
  • Change the name of Franconia Notch State Park to Franconia Notch Veterans’ Memorial State Park
  • Require DRED to request information from potential entities interested in leasing Cannon Mountain ski area
  • Start the process for building a Veterans Memorial
  • Require DRED to fix erosion and remove waste from Mittersill
  • Develop two designated hiking routes on the ski area

  • Read more: SB217

    Continued Press Coverage of Non-Business Use of Cannon Vehicle
    Grant Bosse, Concord Monitor, December 23, 2011

    "Bald also fought to keep the "company car" of Cannon Mountain General Manager John DeVivo, arguing the perk was part of DeVivo's agreed compensation and that the heavily-logoed car would serve as a billboard for Cannon on his commute between the mountain and his home in Bethel, Maine."
    Cannon Comes Under Fire for Personal Use of State Vehicle
    Grant Bosse, New Hampshire Watchdog, December 21, 2011

    "The head of the Department of Resources and Economic Development defends his decision to let the General Manager of Cannon Mountain take home a “company car” every night, putting more than 18,000 personal miles on the vehicle in Fiscal Year 2011."

    "The state car that has drawn the most attention following the publication of the DAS report is the 2010 Chevrolet Impala LS driven by Cannon Mountain General Manager John DeVivo. That car registered 18,842 miles of Non-Business Use in FY11, second most of any car in the state fleet. But it is also the only state car garaged outside of New Hampshire."

    Read more: DRED Commissioner defends giving Cannon GM “Company Car” - New Hampshire Watchdog

    Cannon Makes Snowmaking Bet, Loses, December 18, 2011

    The Cannon Mountain Peabody Base Area, 11/30/2011 Coping with mild temperatures, major ski areas such as Killington, Loon, Okemo, Sunday River, and Waterville Valley all employed a top-down snowmaking strategy. Under this strategy, these areas took advantage of better snowmaking temperatures, higher snowmaking yield, and better snow staying power by commencing snowmaking on their upper mountain pods. Though all suffered through the subsequent thaw, much of their manmade snow was retained and daily operations were only briefly disturbed.

    Meanwhile, state-run Cannon opted to make snow on the lower mountain Peabody area. Over the course of about a week of expensive, margin-temperature snowmaking, one lower mountain run was opened for five days.

    Warm temperatures and rain then arrived, melting much of the expensive manmade snow, resulting in a 9 day closure.

    Once colder weather returned, Cannon continued to focus on the lower mountain Peabody area, resulting in lower snow production than would be expected in colder, higher elevation temperatures.

    As of Sunday, December 18th, Cannon is the only 2,000 vertical foot ski area in the state not open top to bottom. The Aerial Tram, Cannonball Quad, and Mittersill Double have yet to transport a single skier this season.

    Cannon Closes Mittersill to Non-Skiing/Snowboarding Use, August 8, 2011

    Less than a month after photos of Mittersill environmental damage were posted on, the state management at Cannon Mountain has closed the Mittersill area to all foot traffic. As of early August, a new sign has been prominently placed at the foot of the $2.6 million taxpayer funded Mittersill double chairlift, proclaiming "Hiking is PROHIBITED on Cannon Mountain ski trails due to environmental and safety concerns."

    The Mittersill complex had been open to foot traffic since coming under the ownership of the United States Forest Service in 1989. In March 2009, the Federal government completed a land swap, transferring ownership of Mittersill to the State of New Hampshire. The complex opened with a new $2.6 million dollar taxpayer funded chairlift on January 1, 2011.

    Proposed Leasing of Cannon Mountain Ski Operations, June 30, 2011

    The amendment to the State's budget bill (HB2) that included the language requiring the State to lease ski operation [sic] at Cannon Mountain was REMOVED and the budget bill was passed without the requirement to lease Cannon Mountain.

    There will be no changes in the operation of Cannon Mountain for the 2011-2012 season as well as non [sic] anticipated for the 2012-2013 winter season.

    We are thankful the support [sic] of many of our NH House and Senate members as well as our guests, passholders and community members who spoke out in favor of keeping Cannon State owned and an integral part of Franconia Notch State Park.

    Senate drops plan for Cannon Mt. ski lease
    Tom Fahey, Nashua Telegraph, June 15, 2011

    "The plan to lease Cannon Mountain ski operations will be put on hold for at least a year under an agreement the House and Senate reached today. Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said he will pull a leasing requirement out of the pending budget bills. The understanding with the House is that a bill dealing only with the leasing issue will come forward in January. With that agreement, the issue of a Cannon lease should no longer serve as a stumbling point in budget talks."
    Proposed Leasing of Cannon Mountain Ski Operations, June 10, 2011

    The NH Senate recently introduced an amendment to the State's current budget bill - HB2. That amendment would require the State to lease the ski operations of Cannon Mountain, effective July 1, 2012.

    The State Budget, which includes the amendment regarding the leasing of Cannon, is currently being deliberated by members of the House and Senate.

    Below is a statement from Cannon's General Manager, regarding our position:

    As the General Manager at Cannon Mountain Ski Area and Franconia Notch State Park, I think it's time for the general public to hear our official position on the leasing amendment that was attached to the State's 2012/13 budget currently under consideration by the Legislature.

    Our mission since 2007 at Cannon has been very simple: rebuild the company from the inside out; establish and maintain a long-term plan for profitability while providing a value-based recreation experience for in-state and out-of-state visitors; and vigilantly protect the character and integrity of Franconia Notch.

    We've made vast improvements upon our terrain diversity, our management and marketing, our snowmaking and grooming, our service and infrastructure, and our community relations and business partnerships. The public has responded very well, and the numbers don't lie. Our skier visits, season pass sales, total revenue and net profits have risen steadily, and we’ve turned a nearly $1.5 Million deficit into a nearly $1 Million surplus within just four years... a 250% improvement. We’ve also revitalized Mittersill and added 50% more terrain to the ski area. We’ve done all of this with value in mind, and have scored the top ranking in the East for value for four years running in the SKI Magazine Readers’ Poll.

    We've been successful thus far, and we aim to continue. We have a lot to do over the next few years before we’ve maximized upon our potential, and we relish the challenge. Our goal is to attract 25% more visitors to the ‘Notch over the next several years while maintaining its pristine character. Many of us on the management team have either come to work in the ‘Notch or returned here for the same reason – we love it here, and we’re privileged to work in what we feel is “New Hampshire’s most beautiful office.” We operate Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch State Park (FNSP) as a singular operating unit, with shared assets, resources, personnel, costs, maintenance and infrastructure. Cannon/FNSP operates unlike any other park within the State's Division of Parks and Recreation, and it generates nearly sixty percent of the annual revenue of the entire park system.

    Cannon is the epicenter of New Hampshire's flagship State Park, and to separate the Ski Area from the State Park itself would have serious negative long-term operational, logistical and financial effects on both the Park and the Division. The Park’s headquarters, IT infrastructure, management team and primary maintenance facilities are located at Cannon. Additionally, the costs associated with freezing our rates, zeroing our budget and entering a lease may very quickly add up to nearly $2 Million during fiscal years 2012 and 2013. We’re also concerned over the millions in potential losses in discounts and philanthropy that may affect New Hampshire residents and organizations over several decades during a leasing agreement.

    In short, we're a self-funded, self-managed, State-owned success story that has utilized all means available to reinvest in itself, revitalize the North Country economy, draw visitors from around the world, and make New Hampshire proud, and we've done so with no negative impact upon the State's general fund. Over the last four years, Cannon’s average annual net profit has exceeded the Mount Sunapee lease payment to the State, yet there are many who point to the leasing of Mount Sunapee as the business model of choice. We’ve shown that for a great many operational, logistical and financial reasons, a leasing model simply will not work at Cannon/FNSP.

    With due respect and trust toward the effort and support offered to the State and its residents by the Legislature, we feel that the leasing of Cannon Mountain Ski Area is not what's best for the overall long-term health of Cannon/FNSP, the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, or Franconia Notch itself, and that it’s not what’s best for New Hampshire. We've made this position clear to the Legislature, and felt it’d best be made clear to the general public.

    John DeVivo, General Manager
    Cannon Mountain Ski Area and Franconia Notch State Park

    Cannon Privatization Gets A Look In Senate
    Kevin Landrigan, Nashua Telegraph, June 1, 2011

    "The top Senate budget writer and state Economic Development commissioner sparred over the process that led to the proposed private leasing of Cannon Mountain. The $10.3 billion state budget proposal is up for a final vote in the state Senate today. Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, has been a leading advocate for leasing the Franconia mountain to private interests."

    “'The reality is it needs to be privatized,' Morse said. 'We cannot invest; we can’t afford a prison; can’t afford two prisons, can’t afford Cannon.'”

    "Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald maintains the ski area has been well-run and notes that it has made an increasing profit in each of the past three years."

    Cannon Privatization Gets A Look In Senate
    Josh Rogers, NHPR, April 28, 2011

    "The finance committee is considering Cannon’s lease as a free standing bill; they may also insert it into the state budget. Any lease would need to win favor from the governor and council as well as lawmakers and would take at least a year to iron out. Governor Lynch opposes Cannon’s privatization."

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