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Arizona Parks Consider Hiring Concessionaire

April 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Arizona State Parks has hired a consultant to explore whether a single concessionaire for all 30 state parks would save money, offsetting several years of deep budget reductions.

Cronkite News reported that CHM Government Services will spend the next three months analyzing legal and business aspects of Arizona’s state parks to determine if a massive contract with one concessionaire is possible and feasible.

State parks Executive Director Bryan Martyn said no other state has a sole concessions contract and if it can work in Arizona it might become a model for other states.

“We could change the way parks are run in the country and, theoretically, we could change the way parks are run around the world,” Martyn said.

He said there are currently concessionaires operating in seven of the state parks. They typically run gift shops, rental businesses, restaurants and other services that the parks do not have the expertise, staff or funds to operate.

Martyn said revenue reductions from the state in recent years have made it imperative that parks start to look at such options.

The Arizona Office of the Auditor General reported  in September that the parks had $25.7 million in revenues in fiscal 2012, down from $54.7 million in fiscal 2008.

The report recommended that parks assess and, if necessary, modify how they bring in revenue. It also said they should continue and expand partnerships with private and local government organizations.

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Arizona Parks Faced With Mounting Repairs Bill

January 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Delaying capital improvements needed after years of deep budget cuts to Arizona State Parks will only exacerbate the problems and increase future costs, a state lawmaker said Wednesday (Jan. 16).

“If you don’t take care of your infrastructure, it’s like not taking care of your house and if you let that little $2 item go and don’t fix it, you end up with a $100 repair bill,” said Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott.

Fann, whose district includes five state parks, said Arizona has been doing roughly the same thing with its parks for too long, the Arizona Heritage Alliance reported.

“Not only are we behind the curve on fixing what should have been fixed years ago, but now we have additional problems on top of them,” she said. Bryan Martyn, director of Arizona State Parks, is requesting $15.5 million in Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget for capital improvements.

Arizona State Parks hasn’t received money from the state’s general fund since 2009 and currently works off a $19.5 million budget. Officials say state parks have about $200 million in capital needs.

Fann, who pushed successfully last year to allow Arizona State Parks to keep all gate and concession fees, said that parks are vital to the state’s economy.

“It is responsible for over 3,000 direct jobs, it is responsible for over $2 million worth of revenue, and so state parks is really something we need to keep open,” Fann said. “This isn’t a feel-good item, this is about our economy. The feel-good and the beauty and all that stuff, that’s just the icing on the cake.”

Cuts to the Arizona State Parks budget led to agreements allowing some communities to take over operations and keep parks operating. Arizona State Parks Board Chairman Tracy Westerhausen said the $15.5 million would be an investment.

“It serves the people who come from outside of Arizona to see our parks and enriches the lives of the people who are here already,” she said. Westerhausen said the projects include improving water-treatment systems and electrification of campsites. “We’re under a state mandate to provide clean water to people who come to our parks, and one of the things we can’t do is improve our water structure in the parks,” she said.

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Arizona Rep. Lobbying for More Park Funding

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Delaying capital improvements needed after years of deep budget cuts to Arizona State Parks will only exacerbate the problems and increase future costs, a state lawmaker said Wednesday (Nov. 14).

“If you don’t take care of your infrastructure, it’s like not taking care of your house and if you let that little $2 item go and don’t fix it, you end up with a $100 repair bill,” said Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott.

Fann, whose district includes five state parks, said Arizona has been doing roughly the same thing with its parks for too long.

“Not only are we behind the curve on fixing what should have been fixed years ago, but now we have additional problems on top of them,” she said.

Bryan Martyn, director of Arizona State Parks, is requesting $15.5 million in Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget for capital improvements.

Arizona State Parks hasn’t received money from the state’s general fund since 2009 and currently works off a $19.5 million budget. Officials say state parks have about $200 million in capital needs.

Fann, who pushed successfully last year to allow Arizona State Parks to keep all gate and concession fees, said that parks are vital to the state’s economy.

“It is responsible for over 3,000 direct jobs, it is responsible for over $2 million worth of revenue, and so state parks is really something we need to keep open,” Fann said. “This isn’t a feel-good item, this is about our economy. The feel-good and the beauty and all that stuff, that’s just the icing on the cake.”

Cuts to the Arizona State Parks budget led to agreements allowing some communities to take over operations and keep parks operating.

Arizona State Parks Board Chairman Tracy Westerhausen said the $15.5 million would be an investment.

“It serves the people who come from outside of Arizona to see our parks and enriches the lives of the people who are here already,” she said.

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Report: Arizona Parks ‘In Dire Need of Funding’

September 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The future of Arizona’s state parks are at risk, a new audit says, and their long-term financial sustainability depends on expanded partnerships and marketing efforts.

According to The Republic, the Auditor General’s Office report, released Wednesday (Sept. 19), portrayed the parks system in dire need of funding. State funding have dropped to about $25.7 million last fiscal year from about $54.7 million in fiscal year 2008, the report said, because of the state’s budget deficit.

The audit also found that low and declining visitation was among the factors that pose long-term risks for the parks.

Auditors recommended the Arizona State Parks Board, which manages the state’s 30 parks, continue to expand partnerships with governments and organizations and create a new marketing campaign to showcase the parks. Auditors also said the board should study how the parks system can become more financially sustainable.

The 30 state parks cover a total of 62,000 acres, with 28 percent of the land owned by the state and 72 percent leased or under easement from federal and state entities. About 2 million people visited the state parks in fiscal year 2011, the report said.

The audit found:

• Arizona has one of the lowest number of park visits among western states and state parks compete with many national and local parks for visitors.

• The loss of state funding for park operations has created a need for the system to transition from being publicly funded to paying for its own operating expenses. Historically, park receipts have not covered operating expenditures–until recently.

The board has taken steps to increase revenues, including the addition of electrical hookups at campsites, an improved reservations system and a new fee schedule that charges lower fees to attract campers during the off-season and higher fees when sites are at a premium.

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Arizona to Consider Plan to Close 13 State Parks

January 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The orange stars mark the location of state parks in Arizona, 13 of which could be closed under a proposal to be considered this week by the state parks board.

The orange stars mark the location of state parks in Arizona, 13 of which could be closed under a proposal to be considered this week by the state parks board.

The Arizona State Parks board will consider this Friday (Jan. 15) a proposal by state parks staff to close 13 state parks due to budget deficits in the state. More parks may close if the parks cannot raise enough money from entry fees to keep them open by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, according to rvarizona.blogspot.com.

The six most profitable parks based on visitation income are Alamo near Wenden, Kartchner Caverns in Benson, Slide Rock near Sedona, Catalina near Tucson, Dead Horse Ranch near Cottonwood and Lake Havasu at Lake Havasu City. Also remaining open would be Buckskin Mountain near Parker, Cattail Cove at Lake Havasu City and Fool Hollow near Show Low.

The parks that would close under the proposal include Tonto Natural Bridge near Payson, Red Rock near Sedona, Lost Dutchman near Apache Junction and Tombstone Courthouse in Tombstone.

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