Arizona State Parks see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel
By Bob Difley
As reported in my last blog post on the status of California State Parks, and the good news that only a few of the 278 parks will close, the state of Arizona is also on the verge of a successful campaign to save their parks (photo left – Picacho Peak SP).
In particular, House Bill 2362 will protect the funds collected by (or budgeted to) the parks from their legislature that periodically “sweeps” the funds into their general fund to pay for non-park related budget shortfalls. Knowing that the pols can’t raid their funds might encourage park administrators to try “outside the box” revenue-producing ideas similar to those that appear to be working in California. Below is a description of the bill:
House Bill 2362 (Fann, R – District 1): State Parks Revenue Fund
The State Parks system has been subject to periodic legislative fund sweeps dating back to 2003. Since 2007, staffing has decreased by 40% and operating funds have shrunk by half, to $19.5 million dollars this year. Even some of the funds generated by the system itself ($15.5 million in park generated revenues since 2009) have been swept into the general fund.
HB 2362 is designed to protect the funds which are generated in the operation of parks. It establishes a State Parks Revenue Fund for operation, maintenance, improvement and park expansion. It provides:
That monies received from the following sources will be deposited in the fund: designated gifts and donations, gift shop sales, legislative appropriations, park user, concession and reservation fees and other generated revenues;
Continuous appropriation to the Parks Board;
On notice from the State Parks Board the State Treasurer shall invest the fund and interest will be credited to the fund;
Unspent monies will remain in the fund and not lapse to the general fund.
The Arizona State Parks Foundation, who supported the bill, reported on their website the current status:
Here’s hoping that the governor signs the bill and that the parks will have a chance of staying open–or at least not having their meager operating funds stolen by the political establishment for their own purposes.
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