Funding shifted around to keep parks afloat.
A new plan has been unveiled that would allow state parks to remain open without increasing the Department of Parks and Recreation budget appropriation.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had previously requested that the state’s Department of Parks look into ways to cut $14.2 million amid the recent budget pinch. The Governor threatened that if the funds could not be found, hundreds of state parks could be closed indefinitely.
After diving into the books, the administration and the Department of Parks was able to shift enough money around to keep the parks open this year.
“Working closely with my Departments of Finance and Parks and Recreation, we have successfully found a way to avoid closing parks this year,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This is fantastic news for all Californians.”
The Parks Department admits that several of the parks originally listed for potential closure were some of the highest attended parks in the state. Other parks were to remain open under the first plan, albeit with service reductions.
To avoid the park closures while achieving the budgeted savings, the Administration plans to do the following:
- Maintenance and Equipment: Reduce ongoing maintenance for the remainder of 2009-10 and eliminate all major equipment purchases, such as vehicle replacements. (Savings estimated at $12.1 million)
- Service Reductions: Reducing hours and/or days of operation at most State Park units, reducing expenditures on seasonal staff, reducing staffing and operations at Headquarters (Savings estimated at $2.1 million). Examples of service reductions include; (1) some facilities will close weekdays and be open on weekends and holidays, (2) portions of a unit may be closed, such as the back loop of a campground, (3) for a park with multiple campgrounds, one whole campground or day use facility may be closed while the rest of the park remains open, and (4) parks that already close due to seasonal conditions may see a longer closure. Service reductions will be planned to minimize disruptions to visitors, achieve cost savings and maintain park fee revenues.
To achieve the $22.2 million of ongoing future General Fund savings that was included in the 2009 Budget Act, the Administration can explore various solutions for inclusion in the January 10 budget to generate ongoing budget savings while minimizing full and complete park closures.