CAMDEN, Maine — Voters likely will be asked in June to spend $230,000 from surplus to cover two years of deficits at the Camden Snow Bowl.
“I’d like to see the Snow Bowl start the next year with a clean slate,” Select Board member Donald White Jr. said at a Tuesday night meeting to deal with the deficit.
The Snow Bowl incurred a $210,000 deficit this past winter because of warm weather and a scarcity of snow. The Snow Bowl had a deficit of $80,000 in the previous year.
Camden Town Manager Patricia Finnigan said that she has imposed a freeze on nondiscretionary spending for the entire town government to help cover some of this year’s deficit from the ski resort. That will reduce the amount that will need to be sought from voters at the annual June 15 town meeting to $230,000.
The board is expected to vote next month to formally place an article on the town warrant to cover the deficit.
Citizens spoke out in support of the Snow Bowl and voiced support for the Select Board’s plan to cover the deficit.
“I can’t imagine the town without it. The Snow Bowl is part and parcel of the town,” resident Jeff Foltz said.
He said that the recreation facility brings people into town, which helps businesses in the community.
Nancy Hughes, a real estate agent, said that the recreation complex is a big draw to the community. She said she does not have an expectation that the Snow Bowl will break even.
Jason Hearst said that the Snow Bowl is the reason he came to Camden. He said he is not opposed to paying more taxes to support the Snow Bowl.
Finnigan said that the town’s undesignated general fund balance, also referred to as a surplus or rainy day fund, is $2.5 million.
Resident Peter Van Alstine pointed out that deficits at the Snow Bowl are not new, recalling them occurring when he was chairman of the town recreation committee in the 1980s.
The warm winter and a lack of snow were to blame for the revenue loss this past season, Parks and Recreation Director Landon Fake said Monday. The recreational area was open for skiing for only 42 days in the 2015-2016 season, compared with an average of 68 days in the prior eight years. The best year was 2007-2008, when the resort was open for 82 days of skiing.
A prime example of the weather’s impact was during the first weekend of February, when the U.S. National Toboggan Championships at the Snow Bowl were shortened by a day because of temperatures near 50 degrees. Organizers could not use the toboggan chute for races because the ice thickness on Hosmer Pond, where toboggans end up after coming down the chute, was considered unsafe.
Fake also pointed out that expenses were higher because the ski resort is 40 percent larger with the additional terrain and lifts.