CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Tomblin administration official said Thursday West Virginia state parks need an immediate influx of cash or the parks will have to close and people will be laid off.

State Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said a number of issues have combined to put parks in a budget crunch.

“They simply have not had the resources to run the park system they way they are running it,” Kiss said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin introduced two supplemental budget bills Thursday. The first would provide $2.8 million for the day-to-day operations of the state parks including meeting payroll. The second, for $3.7 million, would help Canaan Valley State Park and Resort out of a hole created when there was a delayed opening to the new lodge.

State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said the financial struggles of the park system are nothing new. He said a system that usually barely makes it was hit hard by the Derecho and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. He said the delay at Canaan Valley, one of the system’s biggest money makers, was also a big hit.

“While these are large numbers and we certainly appreciate the attention they’re getting, they are not new numbers. We have been trying to keep the legislature up to date for quite some time,” Burdette said.

Commerce hopes to give lawmakers detailed information before the legislative session is over on each park’s financial situation. Burdette said only one state park, Chief Logan, generates enough money to pay its own bills and helps pay the bills of other parks.

State Budget Director Mike McKown told members of the Senate Finance Committee Thursday the park system has enough money to meet one more payroll.

The funding of state parks has been an ongoing issue for the last several years, prompting some calls that the state charge an entrance fee like many other states.

That’s an issue for the state Department of Commerce and the legislature, but Kiss added, “They need to come up with a long-term plan because you can’t keep coming back every year and looking for additional subsidy to keep from laying off a large number of employees in the state park system.”

He said the legislature would have to approve the additional money by the end of January to avoid shutdowns and layoffs.

 

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Comments

  • Tom

    They'll all have casinos and their associated trash before long.

  • Rodney

    I know at Audra park when they cracked down on drinking they lost all the day buisness.

    • Audra girl

      Pretty sure there is no revenue produced from visiting the day use areas of the park. The revenue for Audra is from the campground. The emergency squad had to be called five times last year, most of those incidents involved alcohol and poor judgment. Those that drink too much while at the park endanger dayuse guests and campers alike. Audra is a beautiful park with a family friendly atmosphere. Hope they continue the current policy!

  • Conchop

    Too bad they don't do like CO or WA and legalize all forms of Cannabis.

    1M$ in sales per day = 290K$ in tax revenue per day = good times for all.

    But No no no - can't have that here - God forbid someone would actually light up and smoke some of our #1 cash crop.

    Just keep on cutting - less money - less money - less money - like what's been happening for years around here.

    Once we clearly see the bottom of the barrel, perhaps we'll have a chorus singing " Told you so BLUES".

  • Bill Anderson

    ….and now ..the rest of the story.
    “… in 1933 the Legislature of WV passed legislation that would create the WV State Park system…guidelines were also set out in that legislation stating. "The purpose of such a system shall be to promote conservation by preserving and protecting natural areas of unique or exceptional scenic, scientific, cultural, archaeological, or historical significance…..”
    During the 1960’s, the state park system was expanded through the Area Redevelopment Act which was a federal program used to create jobs.
    For the entire life of the park system, areas were acquired and developed in the name of preservation and job creation not profitability. Parks have been added to the system over the years by law makers with no regard to their burden on the system and now they are being told… “they simply have not had the resources to run the park system they way they are running it” I say “Mr. Kiss, they are running the system the way our forefathers and law makers built and designed it”.
    And might I add that the WV park system is 65% self-sufficient which is among the best in the country in spite of the fact that a large majority of WV state parks are “preserves” which DO NOT and will never create revenues.
    This is akin to telling the library system or state highway system that they need to be self-sufficient.

  • blugldmn

    I thought the lottery money was for tourism? are the parks part of the tourism?

  • mountainman

    Although state parks do not often make enough to pay their own bills they draw thousands of tourists into the state. Millions of dollars are spent by tourists and patrons at other businesses on the way to and around parks. This helps local business and draws tax revenue. Closing parks will not only hurt park employees but would hurt revenues and tourism dollars for many.

  • thornton

    Be nice to have had healthy forests rather than a peck of state parks.....healthy forests often carry their own wallet.

  • TCeer

    We have money for raises for state workers / teachers but now we might have to close some state parks for lack of cash. If Canaan Valley was such a money maker why does it need cash? Not many state parks make money this time if year anyway, so if they do close a few, no one will notice.

  • ignorant bystander

    I equivalate taking my state parks to taking my guns!

  • Uncle SAM

    There are simple remedies to this financial problem: On the entrance road into each state park place a toll booth; on the exit out of each state park place another toll booth.
    Inside each state parks place slot machines at each camp sight and picnic area with beer vending machines on every tee of the golf courses.
    Mayor Danny Jones is slowly working to legalize prostitution in his city so maybe the state should consider letting our state parks be "free business zones" for the oldest profession as well....

  • cynara

    You know, I don't think Colorado will be closing any parks this year....

    • Uncle SAM

      probably not,,, but next year when the liable law suits start rolling in will be another story.

      • cynara

        Liable for what?

  • WV Citizen

    The WV State Park system is almost broke, why did the park supt(s). received bonuses this year? The park chief cries they need more money please explain to the public the purpose of the bonuses!!!!
    We (citizens) must work within our own budget but the park system does not!
    I hope some common sense people will examine
    the "real" books and see where the money went!!!

  • Shadow

    Words right out of the Obama Playbook. They must think the citizens are idiots.

  • jm

    part of the issue with some of the parks is that the rates they charge for hotel lodging is not inline with the state and federal per diem rates. And most will not grant a discount to meet them. Causing the state to lose many of those state and federal employees traveling on official business to patronize the state owned business.

    Seems that to keep state money, they would want to have as many of those in there that they can get. Especially in the slow times of the year.

  • knows

    Leroy j gibbs u couldn't have said it better !!
    They need to scrap and start over on all the welfare programs then maybe they would have $$ for parks and raises not to mention roads. I know a few ppl that really need it and some truly lazy bastards that claim disability and get it but do whatever the hell they want including under the table jobs etc. NOTHING BUT A JOKE