NHWatchdog - DRED Pushing for Park Fee Increases

DRED pushing for Park Fee Increases

(CONCORD) The Department of Resources and Economic Development will ask the Legislative Fiscal Committee tomorrow to increase fees for the New Hampshire Park System. The proposal, submitted by Parks Director Ted Austin and DRED Commissioner George Bald, would raise nearly $133,000 for the Park Fund. Nearly half of that revenue would come from increased parking meters on Hampton Beach.

Increases would include elimination of the Half-Day Wednesday Promotion, higher fees for function space rentals, and parking meters at Hampton Beach. Increases in Park pricing would generate $58,586, based on 2009 volume. Specialty fees, such as function space increases, would bring in an estimated $9,524. The Hampton meters are projected to raise an additional $64,429 next year.

The plan also includes a $15 discount for New Hampshire residents on Family Day-Use Season Passes. Currently, both Granite Staters and out of state visitors pay $120 for the passes. The Park System sold 43 such passes to New Hampshire residents last year.

"We believe we have chosen a package, in conjunction with expenditure decreases, which will sustain the parks budget through the current biennium," Austin and Bald write in their submission to the Fiscal Committee.

Under New Hampshire RSA 216-A:3, the DRED Commissioner has authority to set fees for the Park System without a vote from the full Legislature, provided the Fiscal Committee approves. Austin and Bald state that the Park Fund faced a deficit of over $1.8 million as of the beginning of Fiscal Year 2009. Under state law, the Park System is expected "to recover a reasonable portion of budget expenses", but does not have to be self-sustaining.

The Fiscal Committee meets at 9am tomorrow at the Legislative Office Building in Concord to consider the park system plan.  Read the entire proposal for yourself at New Hampshire Watchdog.