Following last week’s dispute about the distribution of heli-ski user days, Haines Borough Assembly member George Campbell is seeking to more than double the current cap, from 2,600 to 6,000.

Campbell has asked his proposal be included on the agenda for the Nov. 10 assembly meeting. Each of three local companies could be awarded up to 2,000 days annually under Campbell’s proposal.

The issue of skier-day allocation once again arose at last week’s assembly meeting where Alaska Heliskiing and Alaska Mountain Guides appealed manager David Sosa’s decision to grant them 1,250 and 200 days, respectively.

Both companies wanted a bigger slice of the 2,600-day pie, and the assembly relented, doling out the 250 days the manager had left in reserve for whichever companies demonstrated need during the season.

AK Heli ended up with 1,300 days, Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures with 900 and AMG with 400.

Campbell said he is seeking the change for economic reasons, and because he feels the industry is over-regulated in comparison to other local tour industries.

“I look at how much we limit that one industry – which is the only game in town in winter – and I look at how much money we spend to regulate that industry, and I just shake my head,” he said.

At Tuesday’s assembly meeting, SEABA owner Scott Sundberg argued that in addition to 2,600 skier days being insufficient and the amount of available terrain being limited, the third heli-ski permit granted to AMG in 2011 should be eliminated.

Sundberg faulted AMG for receiving skier days for the past several years but failing to use them. AMG owner Sean Gaffney countered that he has scheduled clients for the coming season, and in past years he has transferred AMG’s unused skier days to other companies that needed them.

“For existing operators like AK Heli and myself, we see a potential profit disappear every time those skier days go out the window to another operator,” Sundberg said. “I think the third permit needs to go. It creates problems and it is disrespectful to the two businesses that have been here for the last 15 years trying to create this industry.”

AK Heli owner Ryan Johnson pointed out that 200 skier days, sold at the company’s deluxe package rate, amounts to several hundred thousand dollars and represents a significant financial difference to the company.

And even if the skier days aren’t used because of bad weather, customers still wander around town spending money, he added.

“They were at Mountain Market. They were staying at the Funny Farm. They were staying at hotels in town. They were at the grocery stores. They were everywhere,” Johnson said of last season’s down days.

Campbell said by increasing skier days, he hopes to spur economic growth. “If we don’t start letting people go make money and earn money so they can pay taxes and invest in our community, we’re not going to have money to run our school, much less fund bear monitors and fund harbors,” he said.

Resident Thom Ely, long-time industry watchdog, said the cap should be left alone.

“It’s been a lousy couple of winters for the heli-ski industry. There have been several fatalities in the past few years and I think status quo would be the course to take regarding the heli-ski industry at this point. Let’s have several years of safe operations, hopefully some good snow conditions, (and) see how the business does,” Ely said.

Ely also noted the cap was raised four years ago, from 1,200 to 2,600. “I think the issue has had a lot of time over the years and it is time to give it a rest,” he said.