Another example is Montage Mountain near Scranton, Pa., renamed Sno Mountain. It racked up $14 million in debt, was forced into bankruptcy and sold at auction for around $4 million. I can name others.
I don’t want Plattekill to become another Catskill lost-ski-area statistic like Scotch Valley, Bobcat, Cortina and many others. We’re moving into our 20th year and we’ve been able to weather bad snow years by keeping our debt load low.
Competing against Belleayre and the state has been a difficult challenge, especially during the last decade when millions have been spent on improvements. I’m concerned that it will become even harder to compete with an expansion onto the Highmount property that could diminish our natural terrain advantages that entice skiers to drive the extra 20 minutes to Roxbury.
Belleayre hasn’t been a good neighbor during most of this time. For years before the Olympic Regional Development Authority takeover, Belleayre undercut our lift ticket prices. It waited until we posted our ticket rate for the season, and then posted rates that were about the same. When skiers compared what they were getting for the same price, Belleayre’s infrastructure would often win. On top of this, Belleayre would come up with other discounts to undercut us, while operating at a loss that was subsidized by your tax dollars and mine.
At Plattekill, we can only spend what we make. We have to price our tickets to match our infrastructure, cover our fixed and variable costs, and hopefully make a little money to put back into the mountain. We have to build property taxes, general liability insurance and employee benefits into our lift-ticket cost. Belleayre is exempt from these costs, and under the DEC, ongoing losses were a part of the normal course of business.