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Whitetail sale off

September 24, 1998|By DON AINES

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A deal to sell Whitetail Ski Resort to the Dauphin County General Authority has been halted by a lawsuit from competing ski resorts, but the chairman of Whitetail still expects to be hiring 800 seasonal workers when the weather turns cold.

"Informally, we both came to an agreement that this was the best thing to do," Whitetail Ski Company Chairman Richard Perl said Thursday.

He said the $20 million deal, which was to be finalized at the end of this month, was called off when Snow Time Inc. filed a lawsuit claiming unfair business practices two weeks ago in Dauphin County Court.

"It has nothing to do with the merits of the case," Perl said of the decision not to go forward with the sale.

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"Snow Time could drag this thing out and create an impossible environment to sell bonds," Perl said. Snow Time owns Ski Roundtop near Harrisburg, Pa., and Ski Liberty in Adams County, Pa.

Perl said the proposed deal with the authority was for $13 million in cash and $7 million in long-term municipal bonds. He said a deal for the Dauphin County General Authority to purchase and develop an 18-hole golf course and conference center at Whitetail is unaffected by the lawsuit.

Perl said he broke off discussions with other possible buyers when the authority deal was being negotiated. He said it was unlikely the company will have any discussions with other potential buyers until after the upcoming ski season.

He said selling the resort to the authority would have reduced the cost of capital and increased profits. Profits above the cost of paying off bonds could have been shared between Dauphin and Franklin counties, he said.

That won't be the case while it remains under private ownership, Perl said.

"I think the real loser here is Franklin County," he said.

Perl said the resort would have paid the same local taxes, whether the authority purchased it or not.

The Dauphin County General Authority, established in 1984 to help finance economic development projects in the county, has invested nearly $2 billion in projects, most of them outside that county, Perl said.

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