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Mountain News: Wages too high in Telluride?



TELLURIDE, Colo. – Dave Riley, the chief executive officer for the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., hasn’t exactly made himself a friend of the masses since arriving earlier this year from a ski area in Oregon.

The Telluride Watch explains that Riley was at a meeting of those involved in operating the gondola that connects Telluride and its sibling slope-side town of Mountain Village. The ski company doesn’t directly operate the gondola but has a voice in operations.

Using that voice, Riley challenged a proposed pay increase for gondola operators. They currently get $12 an hour starting, with an extra $1 if they stay the course of ski season. A pay increase of $1 per hour is proposed.

“The National Ski Areas Association comparable position and the national wage for that job is $8.06,” said Riley. “Only 36 per cent of the ski areas provide an end-of-season bonus.” He added that he questions the existing wage, let alone the increased wage.

Greg Sparks, the town manager of Mountain Village, which operates the gondola, said that even at existing wages, it’s tough to hire gondola operators. Current employees come from homes that are up to two hours away in Shiprock, N.M., he said.

Mapquest, a website, says it’s 118 miles, from Shiprock to Telluride, or a drive of 2 hours and 35 minutes. Other gondola operators commute from Montrose, which is 90 minutes away.

“There is not one job in the newspaper that is $8, $9, $10 an hour,” said a town councilman, Jonathan Greenspan. “The employee turnover rate will be astronomical (at a lower wage).”

Responding to the story in The Telluride Watch, readers saw Riley as “delusional,” according to one comment. “You’re making a horrible first impression and a total fool of yourself,” wrote one reader, “Amy” on the newspaper’s website. Another reader, “Joe,” advised Riley to “wake up… before they run you out of town. Better yet, just leave.”

Mountain Village, notes The Watch, has been ranked as one of the 10 wealthiest municipalities in the United States.


Tahoe-Truckee eye Olympic bid

TRUCKEE, Calif. – The conversation continues in Truckee and Lake Tahoe about a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Denver interests are also angling at getting the U.S. bid, and Salt Lake City may aim for a repeat.

Enthusiasts at a recent meeting held in Truckee promoted the Olympics as a way to amp up business — and loosen federal spigots, reports the Sierra Sun.

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