State Capitol News
1:59 pm
Thu October 22, 2009

State parks need cash infusion

Phoenix, AZ – A new report today says the state park system needs an infusion
of outside cash to keep it operating.

The parks system has never supported itself with entry fees but
always been dependent on some tax dollars. But that help has all
but dried up in the last few years as lawmakers divert the cash
for other uses. So the state parks foundation, a private group
that supports the system, commissioned the Morrision Institute to
look for alternatives. One option would be hike vehicle
registration fees. Parks Board member Bill Scalzo said that idea
makes sense.

"It is not just a fee. It is your admission to state parks.
Instead of paying the entry fee of $6 to $8 to $10, or buying an
annual pass that could cost up to $200, every citizen of Arizona,
with Arizona license plate on a non-commercial vehicle, could
enter a state park for maybe $10, $15 a year."

Grady Gammage Jr., a senior research fellow for the Morrision
Institute, acknowledged that means everyone pays, not just those
who use the parks. But he said that no state park system in the
country is self-supporting.

"It just isn't a model, frankly, that works. The theory sounds
nice. But the truth is, these are public assets and public
parks."

The findings of the study are expected to become part of a report
the governor has asked for to find ways of maintaining a
sustainable park system.