C.L. "BUTCH" OTTER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2010
CONTACT: Jon Hanian
GOVERNOR, PARKS AND RECREATION ANNOUNCE MONEY-SAVING MANAGEMENT PLAN
(BOISE) – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter joined Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Merrill today
in announcing a plan for reducing the agency’s General Fund by $4.5 million in Fiscal Year 2011.
Governor Otter challenged Merrill to develop a plan that would get Parks and Recreation off the state’s General Fund while keeping Idaho’s State parks open.
“We will remain the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, by changing our management philosophy and operating more like a business,” Merrill said. “The emphasis as we move forward will be balancing expenditures with revenues.”
“This was never about shutting down parks or doubting the value and importance of those parks to the people of Idaho. This was a budget process that involved tough decisions and a lot of people who care deeply about the resource as well as Idaho’s taxpayers,” Governor Otter said. “I’m proud of Nancy and her crew for stepping up to the challenge and putting together a solid business model.”
The plan presented to the Governor reduces operations to functions that are essential to the agency’s mission, implements agency-wide efficiencies, and identifies partners within other State agencies to eliminate duplication of services. It also calls for using money from the RV Registration Fund to help offset the costs of personnel and operations within State parks that have a direct relationship to the RV use, such as Farragut, Ponderosa and Bruneau.
In addition, the agency will reduce its Full Time Position (FTP) count by 25 personnel. To protect positions within State parks, most of the FTP reductions come from the headquarters in Boise.
“Our goal is to keep our parks open and protect programs and access. To do so, we’re going to use available cash balances until new revenue from recently implemented fee increases and cost savings can be realized,” Merrill said. “This plan will not be an easy one to implement; changes in business and operational philosophies never are. But IDPR is committed to its mission and to our customers.”
The plan is subject to legislative approval.
QUESTION AND ANSWER:
IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
What has been the Governor’s overall goal in considering a range of management and operational alternatives for the
Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR)?
Idaho’s budget crisis has forced a close examination to find efficiencies in all State agencies that rely on the
General Fund. Many other State park systems around the country have been forced to close facilities due to the
impact of dwindling General Fund resources. The Governor’s goal in examining a range of management and
operational alternatives for IDPR has been to preserve Idaho’s State park system while reducing the agency’s
reliance on Idaho’s limited General Fund resources. The goal has been to entirely remove IDPR from General
Fund support and guarantee the ongoing availability of outdoor recreational opportunities for Idahoans and
What was the Governor’s challenge to IDPR Director Nancy Merrill? How has Director Merrill met the Governor’s
The Governor challenged Director Merrill to reduce the IDPR General Fund allocation by $4.5 million, while
maintaining high levels of service. To achieve these savings, Director Merrill has proposed a change in
management philosophy for IDPR that moves the agency to a more business‐minded operational model of
balancing expenditures with revenues.
What is the IDPR plan in summary?
The IDPR plan will reduce the agency’s allocation of General Fund money by $4.5 million in Fiscal Year 2011.
This plan reduces operations to functions that are essential to the agency’s mission, implements agency‐wide
efficiencies, and identifies partners within other state agencies to eliminate duplication of services. This plan
protects state park access and service levels by using available cash balances until new revenue and cost savings
can be realized.
How has IDPR achieved these budget savings?
IDPR reduced its budget by utilizing $2 million from RV Registration Fund, $1.4 million from available cash
balances, and $1.1 million recognized savings from reduction in work force (a reduction of 25 Full Time
Employees (FTP)), for a total of $4.5 million.
What is the timeline for implementing the plan?
Efficiency measures currently are being implemented with long‐term plan implementation dependent on
What efficiency measures are being implemented now?
IDPR continues to focus on functions that are critical to its mission, while holding many positions vacant and
filling only those that are absolutely essential.
How will the reduction in staff positions impact state park management and customer experience?
In order to protect most of the positions within Idaho State parks, a majority of the FTP reductions come from
the headquarters building in Boise. It is anticipated that FTPs reduced within State parks will be replaced with
volunteers or seasonal caretakers to ensure that State parks remain open.
Will service levels be impacted?
During off‐peak times, staff reductions mean fewer staff members will be available onsite for monitoring and
property protection. Grounds and facility maintenance schedules will be altered.
What is the RV Registration Fund? How will IDPR utilize the RV Registration funding?
The Idaho Recreational Vehicle Account was established by the 1985 Legislature in response to requests from RV
users to receive benefits from their license fees. Its purpose is to provide for the acquisition, lease,
development, improvement, and maintenance of facilities designed to promote the health, safety, and
enjoyment of recreational vehicle users. Funds are distributed annually through a grant process managed by a
Citizen Advisory Committee.
Advisory Committee members unanimously agreed to reduce grant funding by $2 million for two to five years,
to help IDPR bridge the financial gap as the agency strives to alleviate its dependency on the General Fund.
IDPR will utilize those funds in State parks that have a direct relationship to the RV use, such as Farragut,
Ponderosa and Bruneau, to cover personnel and operating costs.
IDPR will be utilizing “cash balances.” What does that mean?
The agency historically has held a reserve balance of cash to ensure the continuation of operations for
approximately six months, in the event of unforeseen circumstance or emergency. These funds will be used to
assist the agency in bridging the financial gap until revenues are realized from the recent implementation of fee
Is the plan a long‐term, sustainable financial solution for IDPR and continued operations?
This plan has been prepared based on current information and will sustain operations for 6‐18 months until
additional revenue and cost reductions are realized. It is the agency’s intention to manage to the plan, adjusting
as necessary as new visitation and revenue numbers present themselves.
This plan provides a financial bridge to reduce the agency’s allocation of General Fund immediately. This
transition plan will allow IDPR the time to work with regional partners, implement additional cost saving
measures, and realize an increase in cash flow.
What will happen if revenues for IDPR fall short of projections?
The first and foremost goal of this plan is to keep State parks open and available for use in the future. However,
if cash and revenue projections do not align, the Idaho Park and Recreation Board will have to consider
alternative management plans for parks to further reduce costs.
The Idaho Park and Recreation Board already has approved the closure of two State parks and the reduction of three
FTPs if another holdback was implemented. How does that Board action affect the agency’s plan to move off of
This Board decision was in anticipation of current year holdbacks that have not yet been implemented. This plan
includes components of the previously approved board holdback.
Will Thousand Springs and Land of the Yankee Fork State Parks remain open?
It is the goal to keep all recreation opportunities available within these properties. The agency is exploring
alternative management strategies for these parks.
Will alternative management opportunities be considered before parks are closed?
Yes. Land managers, property owners and communities will be engaged in discussions to consider alternative
management solutions before a park will be closed.
Why wasn’t this plan considered originally?
Budget submission deadlines required that the Governor submit his budget in the fall. The proposed
consolidation plan was included within the Governor’s budget as a placeholder, allowing agency directors the
time necessary to review and identify cost‐saving solutions.
Within the potential consolidation plan for IDPR and the Idaho Department of Lands, it was proposed to sell the IDPR
headquarters property for $5.5 million. Is that still the plan?
The plan today is for IDPR to continue operation at its headquarters, located at 5657 Warm Springs Avenue in
Boise. Examinations currently are under way to determine whether a portion of this property could be sold.
What types of revenue‐generating strategies has IDPR recently implemented?
In addition to moderate fee increases (park entrance fees, campsite fees, dock slip fees, and cabin lease fees),
each State park has been challenged to increase their revenue through creative marketing strategies, by hosting
additional events, and using more efficient fee collection methods.
What other efficiency measures is IDPR considering?
Some agency functions that historically have been handled in‐house may be outsourced to other Idaho State
agencies or private contractors. Additionally, the agency will continue to identify potential partnerships with
State and federal partners by leveraging collective resources.
How have fees been increased? Will the fee increases out‐price the average Idahoan, preventing them from being
able to afford an Idaho state park experience?
In most cases, campsite fees have been moderately increased by $2‐$3. Facility use fees for cabins, yurts and
docks have also been slightly increased, as well as lease agreements within parks like Heyburn. These fees were
increased to more accurately reflect market value.
Idaho’s State parks will continue to provide a tremendous value to Idahoans. A carload of people will still be
able to access Idaho’s State parks from sunrise to sunset for just $5 (or $35 annually). A weekend camping
experience within an Idaho State park is comparably priced to a Friday night at the movies for a family of four.