During a special meeting Dec. 11, the Select Board authorized up to $27,000 to repair a large pump motor used for snowmaking from mid-mountain to the top of the mountain at the Camden Snow Bowl.

Snow Bowl Manager Beth Ward said that when the 500-horsepower pump motor was tested last Tuesday, "we got some sparks and noises we don't like to hear, and it shut itself down." The equipment test is done annually in December, she said. The reason the equipment is tested at the beginning of December is that Central Maine Power levies a $3,000 per month demand charge in any month when the motor is operated, so the test is done the month snowmaking begins.

The repair option explained by Snow Bowl Mountain Operations Manager Tom Beauregard, which would enable snowmaking to begin on the upper mountain next week, costs $24,100, plus additional costs for electrical services. The repair involves rebuilding the engine. He confirmed that current snowmaking is not at full capacity.

While board members had questions about the age and condition of the motor, preventive maintenance, whether a fire truck pumper could be used to help make snow this week, and how to fund the repair, they unanimously authorized Ward to spend up to $27,000 to repair the pump motor.

Ward explained that the used engine was purchased in 2014, and was past warranty. Beauregard said the fire truck pumper was considered, but could not be wired to the snowmaking equipment. Board Chair John French wants the Select Board to discuss a maintenance plan for the future.

Ward called on Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell to explain options the board has to pay for the repair. Caler-Bell told board members, "You don't have to decide tonight, if you feel you need more time." Board members listened to the options, choosing to take more time before making a decision.

Caler-Bell said one option is to charge the pump motor repair to the 2018 alpine operating budget, and cover the cost of the repair with funds Ward has budgeted for maintenance and repairs, hoping that during the coming ski season, there is enough operating revenue to cover expenses.

Another option is to take the $27,000 for the repair from general fund contingency monies in the municipal budget at the end of the year. That would require moving money from the municipal budget to the Snow Bowl's enterprise fund.

A third option involves a Snow Bowl contingency fund totaling $22,345 that was budgeted for the 2017 ski season, Caler-Bell said. She explained that Finance Director Jodi Hansen discovered that the contingency fund was not used. The board could carry this Snow Bowl contingency fund from the 2017 budget to the Snow Bowl 2018 budget, she said.

Caler-Bell mentioned that auditors are still working on an audit of the Snow Bowl enterprise fund. She said the auditors are indicating that "on paper" the 2017 Snow Bowl budget would show a deficit.

French asked, "When did this happen?" saying that the 2017 season finished in the black, with about $50,000 after final expenses were paid. Caler-Bell said the "paper" deficit was due to depreciation on new equipment, and that more information would be available next week when the audit wraps up.