2016 Session

Budget Amendments - HB30 (Member Request)

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Chief Patron: Orrock
Co-Patron(s): Landes
State Parks Operating Funds

Item 365 #2h

Item 365 #2h

First Year - FY2017 Second Year - FY2018
Natural Resources
Department of Conservation and Recreation FY2017 $5,312,371 FY2018 $5,312,371 GF

Page 315, line 25, strike "$67,564,642" and insert "$72,877,013".
Page 315, line 25, strike "$66,998,477" and insert "$72,310,848".

Page 316, after line 36, insert:

"H. Included in the amounts for this item is $5,312,371 in the first year and $5,312,371 in the second year from the general fund to support the hiring of 43 FTE positions within the Division of State Parks."


(This amendment provides an additional $5.3 million each year and 43 FTE positions from the general fund to support operations at Virginia's state parks. This would replace funds that had been reduced in recent years to address budgetary shortfalls and allow the department to fill vacancies they have kept open in the Division of State Parks. The practice of using salary savings from vacant positions to fund operations has created a significant backlog of needs and left parks understaffed. The increase in park visitation, overnight usage and demand for park services as well as the increased complexity of operations have contributed to a cumulative effect limiting the state parks' ability to provide the services demanded by their customers. Virginia's parks hosted over 8.9 million visitors in 2015 and over 1.1 million overnight guests. Overnight usage has increased 47% since 2005.

Revenue from overnight facilities account for $9 million of total park revenues. In 2015, state parks contributed to a statewide economic impact of over $208 million. At the same time, the agency has lost $2.2 million in general funds since fiscal year 2008 and much of the remaining general funds have been redeployed to unavoidable cost increases such as employee benefits and inflationary operating costs while demand for park services has grown by 24%. The agency has managed this situation by deferring the hiring of up to 54 allocated salaried employees, creating a 22% field vacancy rate while only partially addressing park operating needs, equipment replacement, natural resource projects and maintenance backlogs.

The proposed positions include 20 Chief Ranger Visitor Experience, 11 Park Rangers for maintenance, 10 housekeeping manager positions and two park office managers.

In total, the requested $5.3 million is the equivalent cost of recovering the salary of 54 park employees plus the salary and benefits for 43 new positions.)