Selected Alabama State Parks Will Not Close On May 1
Four state parks and two golf courses threatened with closure May 1 by the state's budget crisis will now stay open "until further notice," State Parks Director Greg Lein said today.
Lein announced April 15 that the following parks would close May 1 due to lack of funding: Bladon Springs, Chickasaw, Buck's Pocket and Paul M. Grist. The golf courses at Roland Cooper and Lakepoint were to close as well.
"Since that time, we have received a tremendous amount of support from the public. In addition, the governor's office and the legislature have received an outcry for our parks to stay open and for them to receive full funding," Lein said. "Given these recent developments and discussions that are taking place in Montgomery, Gov. Bentley has instructed the state parks division to delay these closings slated for May 1 until further notice."
For more on this story, visit: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/04/alabama_state_parks_golf_cours.html
Statement from Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler
Montgomery – Threatened closings of state parks scheduled to begin May 1 will not, and State Auditor Jim Zeigler says “the public’s voice is being heard.” Zeigler had said Tuesday there was no reason to start closings May 1 for a budget shortfall that might start Oct. 1. The parks director agreed Wednesday.
Now, Zeigler is asking the public to support his plan to keep state parks open without a tax increase. His plan, “Save Our Parks with Savings” would create $13 million in savings in government operations and use those for an $11 million shortfall in the parks budget. “We have been told 15 state parks will close without the tax increases. That is an incomplete picture. There are other options, and my plan is an option that needs to be considered.”
Zeigler’s plan would eliminate one state agency, the Examiners of Public Accounts. Its $13 million budget could be shifted to the state parks. Each state entity would then retain a private CPA firm for required audits, payable from each agency’s own budget. Zeigler says the plan will provide more timely audits, because the Examiners are seriously late in their audits. Some state agencies have already privatized their auditing, paying money from their own budgets to obtain an audit they previously got free from the Examiners. “An audit delayed is an audit denied,” Zeigler said.
State Parks Director Greg Lein says that 15 parks will close if the agency cannot get $11 million in additional money above the budget proposal now under legislative consideration, which means revenue would need to increase.
Lein’s full statement released Wednesday said:
"On Wednesday, April 15th the state parks division announced the planned closure of four parks and two golf courses.”
"Since that time, we have received a tremendous amount of support from the public. In addition, the Governor's office and the Legislature have received an outcry for our parks to stay open and for them to receive full funding. Given these recent developments and discussions that are taking place in Montgomery, Governor Bentley has instructed the State Parks Division to delay these closings slated for May 1st until further notice.
"Unless a general fund budget is approved that fully funds the Alabama State Parks System, we will have to soon take extreme measures to begin to brace for the harsh reality that will occur due to this significant loss of revenue. What you are doing is working and has a huge impact on ensuring that State Parks funding is protected. We encourage all supporters of the parks system to continue to communicate within your families, your communities, and among your elected officials to resolve this funding crisis once and for all."
Zeigler is encouraging citizens to contact their state legislator in support of his plan, “Save Our Parks with Savings.”
Copyright © 2015 Gray MidAmerica TV Interactive Media, LLC.