ALBANY – Recently proposed legislation could give private ski areas a tax exemption on new equipment that could help them compete with bigger state-owned ski facilities.
The legislation calls for private ski areas to receive an exemption from state sales and compensating use taxes for the purchase of energy-efficient equipment for snowmaking, ski lifts and snow grooming and for costs associated with the production of snowmaking.
The legislation, recently proposed by state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, would give private ski areas the same tax breaks the three state-owned ski areas — Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface — currently receive.
“New York state is home to many ski centers that attract visitors, support local and regional economies and are an important part of the communities in which they are located,” Griffo said in a press release.
The exemption for state-owned ski centers but not privately-owned centers has created an “unfair business environment,” according to Griffo.
“In order to ensure their long-term sustainability, many privately-owned ski areas in New York, especially upstate, need to upgrade and maintain equipment and snowmaking systems,” Griffo said in the release. “However, they may not be able to do so due to a variety of reasons, including financial constraints. My legislation will help these facilities by providing them with important relief that will help them to flourish for years to come.”
The exemption would be a help to smaller private ski areas, said Jake Tennis, owner of Royal Mountain Ski Area in Johnstown.
“It would be super helpful for us,” Tennis said. “It would maybe help us make a decision on us buying something a year sooner for an upgrade. We’re probably not putting in a new chairlift anytime soon, but a groomer that’s $400,000, with 8% sales tax, that’s $32,000 in sales tax. We just ordered two new snow guns; I’d love to see this pass by April. The two new snow guns are $30,000 apiece, that’s $2,400 in savings on each, which might allow us to purchase one more this year potentially.”
Smaller private ski areas are where people learn to ski, Tennis said.
New York has over 50 ski areas, which is more than any other state in the nation, said Scott Brandi, president of Ski Areas New York Inc.
“We have a $1.4 billion impact on the tourism economy of upstate New York during the four months of winter when we need tourism the most,” Bradi said in a press release. “We support Sen. Griffo’s efforts in sponsoring this bill, and we agree with his position specific to this bill. Snowmaking is a process that should not be subject to these taxes.”
Newer equipment that can transport skiers with less energy and manpower than previously required is now available, and advancements in technology for grooming equipment have made newer machines more energy efficient, according to Griffo’s announcement.
The legislation would allow for the fuel, gas, electricity and refrigeration used for snowmaking production and the energy efficient equipment to be exempt from the state sales tax, as well.
Griffo’s announcement states the climate and business environment has changed in such a way that ski areas must make snow to remain viable in the industry.
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah and Colorado have similar laws in place.
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