After due notice, a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Mad River Glen Cooperative was convened at 5:00pm on Saturday March 12, 2016 on the third floor of the Base Box at the Mad River Glen Ski Area (MRG) in Fayston, Vermont.
5:00 PM Call to order
In attendance: Board – John Stetson, Eric Palola, Meg Hourihan, Ron Shems, John Tobin,
John Eberlein, Jon Anderson, Annika Holtan, Russ Bowen
Also present were President Jamey Wimble and approximately 15 shareholders.
5:01 PM Welcome & shareholder comments
Chair Stetson welcomed the assembled and summarized a letter that was to be sent to shareholders via e-mail and posted on the web site the following day. He described our poor ski season but also highlighted many positives as well. He then asked for shareholder comments.
Shareholder Colin Rehkugler read a lengthy letter questioning just what our expectations as skiers and shareholders should be. He stated Sugarbush managed to have a natural snow trail open when the main mountain was closed was to judge if MRG should be open. He felt there was a desire to be closed, not open, and suggested we create an incentive for management to open the mountain. He questioned what our attitude going forward will be and hoped it would be positive and dedicated to opening whenever possible.
Shareholder Laura Caffry suggested the co-op create a “tip fund” for the staff at MRG.
Shareholder Rocky Bleier stated the co-op needed a “plan B and C” to create revenue when the lifts aren’t spinning.
Shareholder Penny Parson stated we need to work this summer to mitigate problem areas on the mountain. Solving these problem areas on the mountain would allow at least one way to get from the top to the bottom.
Shareholder John Brownley described his many years on the mountain in all seasons. He believes there has been a lack of maintenance on the water bars and stressed that improving drainage would also improve our top to bottom options.
Shareholder (?) Wendy Harman? stated how important it was for the web site to be accurate for events. She was also disappointed that the prior night’s fish-fry had sold out.
5:15 PM Review & approve minutes of February 6, 2016 - Action.
Motion to approve minutes by Trustee Bowen, 2nd by Trustee Shems. All in favor.
5:16 PM Management report (Jamey)
It looks like Sunday March 13th will be the last day of skiing. We will stay on standby the next couple of weeks. If snow were to come after the annual meeting we would not reopen; it’s just too costly.
A companywide meeting was held February 27th to inform the employees of the operational plans for the month of March and the summer. This was followed by an appreciation dinner funded by donations from homeowners and a couple of shareholders. It was a tough meeting but most of the staff understood and were thankful that we were upfront about the situation.
I have had multiple meetings with VTRANS about the parking lot. They are trying to force us to be 12 feet from the white line which will lose us 1 row of cars which could be 50-70 lost spots. I have involved many people from the state level to help assist with this. Will keep you informed.
Our worker’s comp insurance renewal went well. Due to our work the last couple seasons our MOD rate has come down and we saw a 20% decrease in annual premium. This is nearly a $50,000 decrease in annual premium.
We were also able to get a different health care plan for our employees that gave basically the same coverage and decreased the annual cost by $15,000.
Year round staff will take a staggered, unpaid 1-month furlough that will result in considerable labor, payroll tax, and worker’s comp savings..
We sold 2 shares in February against a budget of 4. We have sold 12 shares YTD. We granted 1 hardship request for 2 shares in the month of February.
Financials for February were extremely poor. We had a major loss for the month and are behind budget YTD NOI. This will improve when breakage gets posted to P&L but will still be a very bad year. We have increased the Line of Credit and will be tapping the LOC at the end of March.
The board created an Action itemto address the parking issues.
5:25 PM Finance Committee report (John T)
Treasurer Tobin reported the F/C had met via teleconference on Thursday 3/10. He described it as a sobering meeting as they reviewed using the Line of Credit and also their concern for MRG employees.
Chair Stetson thanked the staff for their work in controlling costs this year.
Trustee Eberlein reported he has been working with Andrew Snow on a new forecasting model that looks at trends in day ticket sales. This will be reviewed during the April and May meetings to help formulate the budget.
5:37 PM Fund Raising Committee report (Annika)
Rule exception to Contributions Recognition Policy (Action)
Trustee Holtan gave a positive update to the gathered on the Fund Raising campaign.
- Two donors came forward and matched a campaign challenge. Diane Martin-Tryhane and an anonymous donor pledged a combined $250k and sponsored a Trailblazer gift opportunity in honor of the late long-time patroller, Howard Martin.
- Steve Oliver and his wife, Lauren Abrey, hosted an awareness event on February 13th at their ski house on Schuss Pass. There were 34 guests at the event and Steve received positive feedback from his fellow patrollers.
- This event would never happened or been as successful without the help of Karen Lloyd. Many thanks also to Penny Parson for being our connection to the ski patrol and providing contact information that ensured no one was left out. And thanks to Jamey for attending and fielding questions about the Co-op's finances.
- No additional events are scheduled at this time.
- The March bi-monthly newsletter went out to 164 people and has a 55% open rate. For comparison the industry average is 23%. Kudos to John Tobin for all his hard work creating and writing such beautiful and interesting newsletters.
- The Preserve our Paradise website is up and now includes a “Donate Now” button that links directly to the SMF website and a dedicated Preserve our Paradise campaign page to accept on-line donations. Thanks to Meg who worked with Andrew Snow at SMF to develop and implement the page.
After discussion on the Birdcage naming grant there was a Motion by Trustee Holtan, second by Trustee Bowen:
“To permit two donors each giving $125k for a total of $250k to the campaign to honor Howard Martin with a plaque in the newly renovated Birdcage, given that all four criteria outlined on the criteria are met.”
All in favor
Chair Stetson thanked Annika and the entire Fund Raising committee. He also reiterated that funds cannot be used for operations, only for capital expenses.
5:50 PM Board Development report (Ron)
Trustee Shems reported the ballots had been mailed and he is prepared for the election at the annual meeting.
5:54 PM Facilities Committee report (Jamey/John S)
Chair Stetson and President Wimble reported they Facilities Committee had met at the Birdcage to discuss the minor upgrades being considered. These include a new entryway, deck and upgraded bathrooms. They reviewed what permits may be required, possible kitchen upgrades, the need for a new well and what, if any, septic upgrades would be made. The use of MRG volunteers was also mentioned. The project will tentatively not start until the summer of 2017.
Jamey summarized his findings on permitting with the Town of Fayston, a Civil Engineer regarding the septic, well drilling permit with Manosh (a well drilling service), as well as Act 250 amendments.
6:02 PM Preparations for the Annual Meeting
The board discussed the Annual meeting presentation and will finalize details via e-mail.
6:08 PM Action item review (Jon)
Communications – prompt posting of meeting minutes
Financial trends – Jamey will look into the trends between departments. ---Ongoing
Meeting minutes - Board will strive to post “Draft minutes” within 7 days of meetings ---New
Evaluate budget model- Board will compare new and old budget models ---New
6:10 PM Closing comments
Shareholder Rocky Bleier stated his appreciation for Betsy Pratt’s running of MRG during a few “lean and mean” years,
Shareholder Bob Rodgers encouraged the Board to continue the Friday Fish Fry and see if there was enough of a demand from the community to continue.
Shareholder Carol Pierce explained that two children had been awarded ski scholarships in memory of Paul Brazowski (sp?) that will be an ongoing award at MRG.
6:15 PM Executive Session
7:25 PM Adjourn
Motion to adjourn by Trustee Anderson, second by Eberlein. All in favor.