FARMINGTON – The numbers are in for the 2002-03 ski season, and Titcomb Mountain posted strong results, proving that little mountains can pull in big dollars.

The not-for-profit mountain is owned and operated by the Farmington Ski and Outing Club.

The total income generated for the season was $200,299.96, more than $5,000 more than anticipated. Nearly half of the revenue, $97,721, came from the sales of more than 1,000 season passes.

A total of $40,617 came from day-ticket sales, and another $17,016 came from sales at the commissary.

Season-pass sales are expected to rise next season as more and more people head for the slopes. According to mountain manager Megan Roberts, season-pass prices will increase by 5 percent next year because of escalating insurance, fuel and maintenance costs. Passes for a family of four for both nordic and alpine trails will work out to around $100 per person.

“The last few years have been great,” said Roberts, attributing the financial success of the mountain to a drive to get youngsters off the couch and into the outdoors during the long winter months. “We have been really working hard to develop more programs to get healthier kids,” she said.

At their annual club meeting June 11, members of the Farmington Ski and Outing Club will vote on the proposed budget for the 2003-04 season, developed earlier this spring by the board of directors.

The proposed expense budget is $197,850, an increase from the 2002-03 proposed season budget of $178,950. The actual cost to operate the mountain this past season was $192,086.

The largest costs will be employee wages, proposed at $78,861, and insurance costs, proposed at $26,110.

Still, the mountain is expected to generate $207,325 in revenue, to more than offset the expenses.

The ability to keep the budget low, Roberts says, comes from a dedicated volunteer force that is committed to keeping the mountain’s family-friendly atmosphere.

Roberts said a new beginner “Pony Lift,” estimated to cost $15,000 and to be paid for through fund raising, will be a major addition to the mountain. The lift will help build confidence in beginning skiers and boarders, she said, because it will be slower and also improve lift lines by offering another alternative.

Titcomb also recently received a $15,900 grant from the Maine Trails Funding Program to reconstruct a portion of its approximately 18-kilometer nordic trail system. That money, Roberts said, will be used to widen and smooth about 3 kilometers of the trails to make them safer and more accessible.

Roberts also noted that the recent partnership between Black Mountain in Rumford and the Maine Winter Sports Center is positive for skiing in Western Maine. “It’s wonderful for Rumford and wonderful for the skiing industry,” she said. “This will hopefully increase skiing in the state of Maine so that during the long winters, people get out of the house.”

Several years ago, MWSC and Titcomb discussed a similar partnership, but Roberts said the Farmington Ski Club opted out of the deal because it wanted to keep the ownership in the hands of local community skiers and not turn ownership over to the center as MWSC would require.

The Farmington Ski and Outing Club’s annual meeting will be held at the lodge at Titcomb Mountain on Wednesday, June 11. An ice cream social will start at 6:15 p.m., with the business meeting kicking off at 7 p.m.

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