To The Daily Sun,
The purpose of the letter is to update Belknap County residents on the ongoing negotiations between the Gunstock Area Commissioners (Gunstock) and the Belknap County Delegation (Delegation) regarding the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between us.
Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2016, an agreement was in place, under which Gunstock would pay the County $175,000 annually. The 2016 payment was made during March of 2016. In June of 2016 Gunstock and the Delegation began negotiations on a new MOA. After several meetings and turnover on both sides of the table due to last November’s election and the appointment of Russ Dumais as a new member of the Gunstock Commission, a proposed Agreement was reached in February of 2017, between the two negotiating groups. Under the proposed Agreement, Gunstock would pay the County $100,000 annually and commit to adding $100,000 to its reserves, if financial results allowed.
During a subsequent meeting on May 5, 2017, Rep. Raymond Howard officially pulled the proposed agreement off the table, stating it was not representative of the Delegation’s current position. After the proposal was withdrawn, discussion ensued, during which Rep. Norman Silber made several derogatory comments regarding the financial management of Gunstock, inclusive of the Commission and management, after which he abruptly left. After Rep. Silber’s departure, a respectful discussion continued between the remaining parties and an agreement was made to hold an additional meeting to continue good faith negotiations.
The next meeting occurred on May 16, 2017, which included Representatives Raymond Howard, Valarie Fraser and John Plumer and Commissioners Sean Sullivan and Stephen Nix. During this meeting Gunstock proposed a one year extension of the expired MOA, inclusive of a $175,000 payment to the county, payable upon agreement, and to continue good faith negotiations towards a long-term agreement. On May 22, 2017, both Gunstock and the Delegation agreed to this one year extension, (with a provision to continue good faith negotiations) through December 31, 2017 and payment was made the next day.
During a subsequent meeting on July 12, 2017, the Gunstock negotiating team proposed a five-year MOA under which Gunstock would pay $100,000 annually plus 5 percent of operating income. In a year during which Gunstock had negative operating income, a minimum payment of $100,000 would be made. The Delegation negotiating group, comprising Reps. Howard, Fraser and Plumer, requested a presentation be made to the entire Delegation detailing the operations and financial performance of Gunstock. The presentation was intended to be an informational session for the members of the Delegation, so they could vote on a long-term MOA with an educated opinion. This presentation was made on Aug. 29, 2017, at which only Reps. Fields, Plumer, Varney and Spanos attended.
At the Gunstock Commission’s regular meeting on Sept. 27, 2017, meeting, Rep. Howard informed the Commissioners the $100,000 plus 5 percent of income proposal was not acceptable to the Delegation. Rep. Howard also informed the Commission that legislation had been filed in the New Hampshire House of Representative regarding the management of Gunstock. He was not forthcoming as to the content or intent of the proposed legislation. The legislation was filed without the knowledge of, nor in consultation with the Gunstock Commissioners, and several subsequent inquiries as to its language, purpose and intent of proposed changes have gone unanswered.
As of the date of this letter, the Gunstock Commission knows the following: legislation has been filed: “Regarding the management Gunstock,” sponsored by Reps. Fraser, Howard, Plumer and Abear, and its proposal to pay the County $100,000 plus 5 percent of net operating profits for the next five years has been rejected.
It is the opinion of the Commission that the Delegation is not negotiating in good faith as agreed upon when the Commission agreed to pay the County $175,000 and continue to negotiate towards a long-term agreement. Although the Commission is open to continued negotiations, we believe until the purpose and intent of the proposed legislation are known, further discussions would not be meaningful. While it is difficult to opine of pending legislation the commissioners cannot see, based on the tone and actions of the delegation’s negotiating team, I believe it will not be in the best interest of either Gunstock or the county taxpayers.
Gunstock Area Commission