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DONATIONS ON TRACK TO KEEP STATE PARKS OPEN
October 14, 2009
(OLYMPIA, WA – An early report of donations to State Parks shows $1.4 Million dollars in the agency’s donation account on Sept. 30, a number that is considered on track with the Legislature’s budget goal for the agency to be able to keep state parks open.
The 2009 Legislature established the new donation program, which began with September vehicle license tab renewals.
The goal was for donations to replace $28 million of the $52 million in General Fund tax operating dollars cut from the State Parks budget.
During 2009-11 Legislative budget deliberations, reductions to State Parks would have otherwise meant temporarily closing as many as 40 parks around the state.
When the budget was finalized and signed in early May, the Legislature had created the new program and stipulated that all parks would remain open provided sufficient revenues are collected.
In the new donation program, vehicle owners’ license tab renewal notices have an automatic $5 donation added to the total due. Those who do not wish to make the donation simply subtract it from the total due, as outlined on state Department of Licensing renewal notices and payment coupons.
The Legislature projected that State Parks would need $28 million in donations over the two-year budget period starting July 1, to make its budget and keep state parks open.
The program started with September renewals, leaving only 22 collection months instead of 24. Because of this, the agency needs to collect an average of $1.25 million each month over two years to meet its budget.
State Parks will report to the Legislature in January about the status of the donation program. Information about the program is available on the State Parks Web site, www.parks.wa.gov/donations. End-of-the month reports will follow the status of the program online.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. The 96-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
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