With the 2023 ski season now in the rearview mirror, Eaglecrest Ski Area is seeking additional funding from the city along with a 10% increase for the cost of all products starting July 1.
Dave Scanlan, Eaglecrest general manager, gave a presentation to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance committee Wednesday evening that outlined the municipal-owned ski area’s recent season and sought approval of its proposed 2024 fiscal year budget.
Scanlan said during this year’s 94-day ski season Eaglecrest welcomed around 70,000 visitors and saw record revenues from this season’s pass-products sold.
However, Eaglecrest also dealt with what Scanlan called “the most challenging staffing shortage this year to date,” a struggle Eagelcrest is no stranger to as in recent years its employee’s low wages and resulting staff shortages attracted nationwide news coverage.
Scanlan said the restraints of Juneau’s high cost of living paired with the unavailability of low-cost housing contributed to the ski area’s difficulty in filling key positions like rental and repair shop supervisor, rental shop techs, cashiers, lift operators, and instructors. The estimated loss of revenue from the staffing shortage equated to around $50,000, Scanlan said.
Looking toward the 2023-2024 season and the upcoming construction of a gondola in the area — which is on target for a potential May 2025 opening — Eaglecrest’s budget is built on an assumption the Eaglecrest board will approve a 10% increase on all products beginning in July.
Scanlan compared Eaglecrest’s pricing to other ski resorts in the industry, which he said are “dramatically increasing the price of single-day tickets.”
He explained that while Eaglecrest is still priced below average ($68) when compared to 10 similarly sized mountains across Alaska and Pacific Northwest ($80.75), the cost of ski operations continues to rise due to inflation, labor market pressures and climate change.
Scanlan said the 10% increase and higher priced summer experiences will allow Eaglecrest to subsidize its growing expense of winter operations while still keeping its prices level.
The proposed budget also included a request for an additional $158,000 to come from the city’s general funds to pay for a handful of costs outlined in the presentation.
Those costs include paying for increased winter road maintenance fees for Fish Creek Road ($25,000), workers’ compensation ($21,000), increased cost of medical for full-time benefited employees ($24,800) and an item called full-cost allocation, which essentially is an amount based on how much Eaglecrest uses city services ($33,300).
Scanlan said the additional funds would keep the ski area’s fund balance positive for the upcoming year. Some Assembly members expressed hesitancy with the amount of the request.
CBJ Mayor Beth Weldon prompted a motion to OK the budget with an amendment that the additional funding request of $158,000 subtracts the $33,300 to pay for the full-cost allocation, making the total additional funding equate to just under $125,000.
Her motion and amendment passed by the Finance Committee and Eaglecrest’s budget will go to the full Assembly for final budget approval.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.