A recent review of state park funding by the Programs Review and Investigations Committee (PRI) has revealed “inadequate” funding to sustain short and long term operational needs of many state parks in Connecticut.
The 80+ page report includes information on resource trends and expenditures, revenue and staffing. Key findings suggest that the Parks Division total budget expenditure has declined annually since 2010. In fact, the Division’s total budget for 2013 is comparable to that of the budget for FY 2006.
The review also finds that staffing levels are critically low, threatening the overall operations of individual parks, Additionally, the PRI reports that fees in Connecticut state parks are higher than other states in the region. Under current circumstances, the committee calls operational planning within the parks “crisis driven;” the system lacks structured attendance to performance based measurement in light of declining resources and dwindling staff.
The state park system falls under the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which is undergoing a transition of leadership as we speak. Just last week, Governor Malloy named Robert Klee DEEP’s new commissioner for 2014.
In a recent statement regarding his appointment, Klee promised to “[build] off of DEEP’s efforts” while also “implementing the many groundbreaking programs” DEEP has been working to develop over the past several years.
In addition to their findings, the Committee authored a number of recommendations to address inadequate funding under DEEP. Of the most notable, the Committee points out that unlike other states that allow state parks to retain revenue, the vast majority of revenue generated in Connecticut’s Park Division goes into the state’s ‘General Fund,’ where it does not necessarily find it’s way back to individual parks The recommendations would re-direct specific funding back to individual parks for maintenance and other purposes.
Read the full report and recommendations here