Some MN tourist spots are too big to fail

Lake Mille Lacs is an important economic engine for Minnesota, which is why some state officials are pushing for a bailout of resorters in the wake of the DNR’s decision to halt walleye fishing this week.

What about skiing? That’s a part of the tourism picture too. Should Spirit Mountain in Duluth get more public money to stay in business?

Spirit Mountain has already burned through a $1.2 million line of credit and on Monday the operation will ask the Duluth City Council for another $300,000, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The problem is last winter’s warm, rainy weather.

“We made some very difficult decisions for the month of April, as well as one pay cycle in May,” Spirit Mountain Executive Director Brandy Ream told a council agenda session last night. “We went into full layoff mode, and all salaried staff took a pay reduction. We did those things to extend the cash that we had in the bank for as long as we possibly could,” she said.

Duluth’s administrator says he’d rather turn over some of the tourism tax money to the operation rather than extend a line of credit.

Councilor Jennifer Julsrud asked a good question: At what point does a government walk away from a private business?

“Can we somehow relinquish our responsibility fiscally from this entity, because it’s not really what we’re in the business of doing here as a city, and it’s hard to continue to watch it stumble,” she said.

The ski area official made no promises about the immediate future, saying she can’t see the “light at the end of the tunnel” yet, especially with predictions that the winter will be a mild one this year.