LACONIA — State Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) told members of the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee last night that he thinks Gunstock Mountain Resort should be paying substantially more to the county in years to come.
Citing numbers which showed that Gunstock, which is owned by Belknap County, paid $318,000 in 2008 and $322,000 in 2009 as part of its previous memorandum of understanding with the county compared to $175,000 in its current agreement, Gallagher said he thinks the county-owned recreation area should be paying as much as $400,000 to $500,000 a year.
''I think we should look at the 2008 and 2009 numbers as a baseline and factor in the increase in value of Gunstock.'' said Gallagher, who said the county should be paying at least double what it currently pays. The resort does not pay property tax.
The current memorandum of understanding expires on Dec. 31, 2016, and Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) said that the original agreement provided for supplemental payments to the county when Gunstock enjoys a good year.
He said that one of the reasons for reducing the amount paid to the county was to enable Gunstock to make capital investments which would allow it to remain competitive with other ski areas and add new year-round attractions envisioned in its master plan.
"We were trying to help with their four-year development plan,'' sad Tilton.
Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead) said that the real issue that should be discussed by county legislators was "Why are we not talking about why we do not sell it?''
He maintained that the county should sell the ski area to private owner and get out of the ski and recreation business altogether. "We should sell it. It's just wrong. We should get out of competing with private business.''
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