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dman
01-07-2005, 09:51 PM
Here is an article that I found on nbc4i.com about officials proposing user fees for Ohio's state parks. Personally, I thought that's why we pay State taxes. My next thought was that I do a lot of boating in the summer, so are they going to charge us extra for our boat trailers? anyway, here's the article.






Officials Propose First Parking Fees For State Parks
Residents Would Pay $5 Per Vehicle

POSTED: 6:00 pm EST January 6, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Visitors would have to pay parking fees for Ohio state parks starting in May if lawmakers approve rules to be proposed Friday by the Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio is among just a handful of states, including neighboring Kentucky and Pennsylvania, that don't charge for hiking, picnicking or most other day uses of parks. But Pennsylvania parks on Wednesday announced that some services would be reduced and parts of facilities closed because of tight finances.

Under the Ohio proposal, residents would pay $5 daily per vehicle, or buy a $25 annual pass that can be transferred among family vehicles. Seniors with Golden Buckeye cards could get discounted passes for $4 daily or $20 annually. Out-of-state residents would pay $6 or $30.

Most of the money would be used for maintenance at the park where it's collected, while the rest wold go to a statewide fund for operations and repairs at all 74 state parks, the DNR said. The system now charges only for overnight camping, boat dock rentals and contracts with concessionaires.

The department will submit the request to a legislative committee that reviews all agency rules and has 90 days to make a decision.

State support has shrunk while expenses went up, DNR Director Sam Speck said. There were 490 full-time parks workers last year, down 22 percent from 607 in 2000. Also, state budget cuts ended the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built several special projects.

Raising existing fees and coordinating with volunteer groups hasn't been enough to make up the difference. Without a new revenue source, parks will be less clean, staff less available and roads and grounds less well-kept, Speck told The Associated Press.

"We simply are reaching a point where we're not going to be able to provide the level of service that people have enjoyed and come to expect," Speck said. "If that experience is hurt and is further eroded, then the loss could be catastrophic."

Gov. Bob Taft supports the proposal as a way to keep and improve services in a tight budget, spokesman Orest Holubec said.

New Ohio Senate President Bill Harris said he's torn by the proposal.

"The fact we're one of the few states that don't charge parking fees is good for the people," the Ashland Republican said. "But I also realize if our parks are not maintained, constituents will be on the phone to us real fast complaining, and rightfully so."

Karen Tabor, spokeswoman for House Speaker Jon Husted of Kettering, said lawmakers will want to explore all options.

The Ohio Environmental Council recognizes that finances are "desperate," spokesman Jack Shaner said.

"We may reluctantly support an entrance fee. However, what we really should be exploring is a dedicated revenue source," Shaner said, such as an additional sales tax on camping or other outdoor equipment. He added he was concerned that lawmakers might again reduce state funding by the amount any such fees raise.

Fee collection would vary from park to park. Workers would distribute passes at the busiest parks, while the least busy likely would have an honor system, the department said. Pedestrians and bicyclists won't be charged, and the pass won't be required at other DNR facilities such as state forests and nature preserves.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Unassisted
01-07-2005, 10:28 PM
When I lived in Wisconsin, we had user fees at state parks. It bothered me when I first moved there, because it was the first place I had ever encountered this. After awhile, I got my mind around the notion that it was important to give the parks a revenue stream for which they wouldn't have to compete with the thousands of other needs in the state budget.

Wisconsin sold a $30/year pass for residents that allowed unlimited use of the parks for a calendar year. That's really quite a bargain if you are a heavy user of parks.

Yeah, free parks are better than pay-to-enter parks. But pay-to-enter parks are better than neglected or sold-off-because-they-re-too-expensive-to-keep parks. :)

RedFanAlways1966
01-07-2005, 11:28 PM
Does not surprise me... Gov. Bob Tax. How much more money does the state need? The state sales tax has gone up, they legalized concealed weapons permits (not cheap!) and now this.

Come election time there will not be any punched chads on my ballot for governor. Not even one hanging...

I do agree w/ Unassisted that it is not expensive. I am not even a camper, but compared to amusement park admissions that it a great deal! However, I see a trend that has developed in the last 2 years in Ohio. They keep taking more and more. And there are even people in this state risk arrest by buying their alcohol and smokes in other states, then transporting it across state lines, b/c Ohio has high sin taxes too. They must feel it is worth the risk b/c the prices for such things are significantly lower in states like Indiana. This was in place before Gov. Tax, but more evidence that Ohians shell it out to their wonderful state government. I am sure it is worse elsewhere... but there seems to be a "new charge" here every few months anymore.

TeamCasey
01-07-2005, 11:42 PM
I'm used to paying extraordinary fees for camping in New York. I camped every weekend there. Seems Ohio is headed that way. Keep your eyes open, taxpayers.

RosieRed
01-07-2005, 11:48 PM
When I lived in NY it was $7 a car, or $50 something for an annual pass. Well worth the money, as the many state parks around Ithaca were gorgeous ( ;) ), and we used them all the time for hiking and swimming. (Even in the winter, for snowshoeing.)

I don't go to state parks in Ohio nearly as often as I did in NY. There just aren't many near me. Stonelick, Caesar Creek, Hueston Woods ... ? Regardless, I think $5 a visit is cheap.

TeamCasey
01-07-2005, 11:58 PM
Are we talking about overnight camping or day visits?

I used to pay anywhere from $12-25 in NY.

RosieRed
01-08-2005, 12:02 AM
Are we talking about overnight camping or day visits?

I used to pay anywhere from $12-25 in NY.

I was talking day visits. I think that's what the article is talking about too.

Roy Tucker
01-08-2005, 12:06 AM
At first when I heard the $5, I thought it was per person per day and said "yikes!". Then I read the $5 is per car. Then I read you can get an annual pass for $25.

I'll spring for the $25 to keep the parks afloat. That's not bad at all. That sticker will go up besides the Hamilton Co. and Butler Co. park stickers we already have.

westofyou
01-08-2005, 12:16 AM
You don't have to pay for state parks?

Philistines.

Chip R
01-08-2005, 01:03 AM
Come election time there will not be any punched chads on my ballot for governor. Not even one hanging...

Don't tell me you'd vote for a Democrat over Taft? :eek:


I am sure it is worse elsewhere... but there seems to be a "new charge" here every few months anymore.

Yeah, I know what you mean. Every time I hear of a new fee or tax I think of the Beatles' "Taxman" and this passage in particular:

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

Unassisted
01-08-2005, 01:18 AM
If any of you Ohioans think those state park user fees are the last straw, you can always move to Texas, where the state parks are still free. No state income tax here, either. You definitely won't like your property tax bill here, though.

When you live in different parts of the country, you come to a realization that government gets its money one way or the other.

RedFanAlways1966
01-08-2005, 01:23 AM
Don't tell me you'd vote for a Democrat over Taft? :eek:


:MandJ:

No, no! I'd leave it blank... no vote for anyone! My way of protesting. I am sure my "voice" will be heard! ;)

Chip R
01-08-2005, 01:30 AM
If any of you Ohioans think those state park user fees are the last straw, you can always move to Texas, where the state parks are still free. No state income tax here, either. You definitely won't like your property tax bill here, though.

When you live in different parts of the country, you come to a realization that government gets its money one way or the other.
Yeah. I lived in Kansas for a year and when it came time to register my vehicle, it cost me about $250. Most of it was for property taxes on the car.

dman
01-08-2005, 02:10 AM
Don't tell me you'd vote for a Democrat over Taft? :eek:



Yeah, I know what you mean. Every time I hear of a new fee or tax I think of the Beatles' "Taxman" and this passage in particular:

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet
Hey I can relate to what RFA is talking about here. When Taft first ran the only other choice was Lee Fisher. The second time around the only other choice was Hagen. It was almost as though our choice was to vote for the Anti-Christ or Satan himself for governor. As for the government getting their money one way or the other, I think here soon we'll all be getting bent over and having it broke off in us.

gonelong
01-08-2005, 01:31 PM
Don't tell me you'd vote for a Democrat over Taft? :eek:

I'd vote in Satan himself to get rid of Taft.

GL

Ravenlord
01-08-2005, 01:33 PM
"Don't tell me you'd vote for a Democrat over Taft?"

i'd vote for Bill Clinton over Taft.

traderumor
01-08-2005, 02:06 PM
"Don't tell me you'd vote for a Democrat over Taft?"

i'd vote for Bill Clinton over Taft.Isn't it moot since his term limit is up?

Ravenlord
01-08-2005, 02:08 PM
yep, but i'm just saying. and using it as a comparison, because i really don't like President Clinton.

Unassisted
01-18-2005, 11:11 AM
This certainly puts the user fee issue in perspective.
http://www.dispatch.com/news-story.php?story=dispatch/2005/01/18/20050118-A1-00.html

Spending cap would cost Ohio in services

Amendment analysis shows parks, schools might be hit hard

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Joe Hallett
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

If a proposed constitutional amendment to limit state spending had been in place during the past decade, Ohio government would have spent at least $18.7 billion less, an amount roughly equivalent to shutting down state government for a year.

A new government analysis shows that lawmakers would have had to make hard decisions about whether to cut aid to schools, close prisons or parks, eliminate in-home care for the elderly or reduce other services to balance the state budget under the strictures of the amendment targeted for the Ohio ballot in November.

"If this proposal goes forward — good, bad or indifferent — state government cannot continue to be for citizens what it has been over the last 10 years," said Scott Borgemenke, chief of staff for majority Ohio House Republicans.

As lawmakers prepare to debate placing the amendment on the ballot — an action requiring three-fifths majority support from both the House and Senate — Borgemenke directed the House budget staff to analyze what the amendment would have meant for Ohio if it had been in place the past decade, encompassing nine fiscal years.

"We’re trying to see whether we should be for or against this based on the data," Borgemenke said. "It’s a preliminary, back-ofthe-napkin sketch to show our members what the numbers look like. Then you have to take the numbers and apply them to public policy."

The amendment, championed by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and fellow Republican conservatives in the General Assembly, has a good chance of passing in the absence of an alternative ballot proposal, because the concept of reducing the size of government has a visceral appeal to voters, Borgemenke said.

If the legislature declines to put it on the ballot, Blackwell and his anti-tax group, Citizens for Tax Reform, have vowed to secure enough signatures from registered voters to qualify it for the Nov. 8 election. Neither Blackwell nor Rep. Linda Reidelbach, R-Columbus, House sponsor of a bill to put the amendment before voters, could be reached for comment last night.

The amendment would prohibit state spending from increasing above the combined rate of inflation and population growth unless three-fifths of the legislature and a majority of voters approve the higher spending. The spending restrictions also would apply to city, village and township governments.

The House budget staff, basing its analysis solely on state general revenue spending — excluding money from the federal government and subtracting local property-tax relief — determined that Ohio government would have nearly $3.5 billion less to spend in the current fiscal year alone if the amendment were in place.

Decreasing spending by that amount would alter how the state serves virtually every one of its 11 million residents. Among possible scenarios assembled by Borgemenke’s staff for cutting $3.5 billion a year:

• Reduce education spending by $2.5 billion. Per-pupil aid would fall from $5,169 to $3,550, ranking Ohio with Alabama and Mississippi among the nation’s lowest.

• Eliminate half of state spending for local governments, saving $352 million.

• Cut 80 percent of funding for local libraries, saving $380 million.

• Eliminate all state spending for Passport, the $103 million program of in-home care for the elderly.

• Close all state parks, saving $128 million.

Other scenarios could include closing state prisons or state facilities for the mentally retarded, or wiping out all $2.48 billion spent on higher education.

"Clearly what this shows is that all the services currently provided by the state could not be kept in place," Borgemenke said. "It’s like everything else — you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I think taxpayers would realize what’s gone under this."

Through the past nine fiscal years, the state has spent $135 billion from its general revenue fund. The proposed constitutional cap on spending would have meant $18.7 billion less for the general revenue fund during that time, or about $14 out of every $100 spent. This fiscal year, the state is expected to spend about $17.9 billion from the fund when federal money and local property tax relief are excluded.

The reduction in state spending growth required by the amendment likely would transfer more responsibility to fund services from the state to local governments, which would be bound by the same restrictions, Borgemenke said.

Required by federal mandates to help fund spiraling costs of Medicaid, the health-insurance program for the poor that consumes about half of Ohio’s annual spending, the state would have to stretch its reduced revenues if the constitutional amendment were approved, Borgemenke said.

"We will become an insurer and an incarcerator," he said. "We’ll pay for Medicaid and put people in prison. Outside of that, we’re not going to be able to do much else."

Redsfaithful
01-18-2005, 11:14 AM
Per-pupil aid would fall from $5,169 to $3,550, ranking Ohio with Alabama and Mississippi among the nation’s lowest.

That's certainly company we want to be keeping.

Thank you Governor Taft.

Doc. Scott
01-18-2005, 11:36 AM
Reduce education spending by $2.5 billion. Per-pupil aid would fall from $5,169 to $3,550, ranking Ohio with Alabama and Mississippi among the nation’s lowest.

• Eliminate half of state spending for local governments, saving $352 million.

• Cut 80 percent of funding for local libraries, saving $380 million.

• Eliminate all state spending for Passport, the $103 million program of in-home care for the elderly.

• Close all state parks, saving $128 million.

Other scenarios could include closing state prisons or state facilities for the mentally retarded, or wiping out all $2.48 billion spent on higher education.

The fact that some of this is even being ENTERTAINED makes me angry.

Good lord, am I glad I'm getting out of this state by midyear. Now that virtually all the good things about my home state are available on the Internet- the Reds, Graeter's, Skyline, WOXY, chats with the family and friends- the state itself is flyover country.

westofyou
01-18-2005, 11:39 AM
Now that virtually all the good things about my home state are available on the Internet- the Reds, Graeter's, Skyline, WOXY, chats with the family and friends- the state itself is flyover country.

And with Delta finally coming to their senses (or falling apart) it's cheaper to fly into CVG.... finally.

TeamCasey
01-18-2005, 11:42 AM
Doomsday article. (Similar to school districts eliminating busing to get their levies through.)

Doc. Scott
01-18-2005, 11:58 AM
WOY, I hope it's easier to get a job in Portland than you were implying.

westofyou
01-18-2005, 12:00 PM
WOY, I hope it's easier to get a job in Portland than you were implying.

Depends on what you do and where you want to work.... i'll assume you edumacated.... ;)

Doc. Scott
01-18-2005, 12:29 PM
MBA from one of our fine Midwestern state schools and almost five years pushing paper...?

westofyou
01-18-2005, 12:32 PM
You'll do fine........ especially if you don't mind working in a larger company.

Doc. Scott
01-18-2005, 12:41 PM
That's what I do now. I just don't do "pure" sales. And I'd like a desk with a PC that faces away from whereever people walk, thanks. ;)

dman
03-31-2005, 01:37 PM
Just saw today where Ohio's House Republicans are scrapping this idea.

Unassisted
03-31-2005, 05:37 PM
Just saw today where Ohio's House Republicans are scrapping this idea.I wonder what they'll say to constutuents who complain that the grass is 3 feet high in their favorite state park?

RosieRed
03-31-2005, 08:06 PM
House Republicans plan to eliminate parking fee plan for state parks

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A proposed parking fee at Ohio’s state parks would be scrapped under the House version of the state budget and the funding replaced with money from a recycling and litter-control program.

The plan to eliminate the recently approved $5 daily parking fee and $25 annual parking passes for the 74 state parks came following a private meeting Wednesday of House GOP lawmakers discussing details of their upcoming budget proposal.

The fees are “inconsistent with the concept that Ohio parks are to be held in the public trust,” Rep. Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina in western Ohio, said Thursday. “We want to encourage additional access to Ohio parks, not discourage it by charging fees.”

The Columbus Dispatch first reported that House Republicans plan to pass their version of the $51 billion budget next month without the fees.

Lawmakers plan to use $8 million from the state’s litter-control and recycling program to replace the fee revenue, said Karen Tabor, a House Republican spokeswoman.

The fees, to take effect in May, were expected to raise about $3 million the first year and as much as $10 million in a few years. The program would cost about $500,000 a year for printing costs, enforcement and pass sales over the Internet.

Senate Republicans said Thursday they were likely to go along with the House proposal. Gov. Bob Taft must sign the budget by July 1.

Taft is concerned how changes to the fee proposal would affect the Natural Resources Department budget, said spokesman Mark Rickel.

“That’s why the priority was to come up with ... a reliable and sustainable revenue stream,” Rickel said.

People who fish have been criticizing the proposed fee since it was announced, said Bryan Wentzel, who runs a popular bait shop a few blocks from downtown Columbus.

Wentzel, 43, said he opposes the concept and also worries it could hurt recreational anglers.

“A lot of people who fish are low-income, they struggle just to pay for the license,” said Wentzel. “I know the state is hurting, but we’ve put out enough in taxes. They are public parks.”

A legislative rule-making committee earlier this month approved the fees, proposed by Taft as a way to provide money to keep up maintenance at the parks following years of reduced funding.

“We don’t like the idea of parking fees, but we also don’t like the idea of our parks deteriorating,” DNR spokesman Jim Lynch said Thursday.

The agency is open to alternatives but worried the House plan could hurt Ohio’s recycling program. The agency has an annual recycling budget of $12.5 million, and provides $9 million in grants to 125 groups statewide that run curbside recycling programs.

If approved, the House plan would take about $4 million of that each year. Sen. Timothy Grendell, an opponent of the fee, said the plan would still provide enough to keep basic recycling in place.

Grendell is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate the fee. He was also removed from the rule-making committee by Senate President Bill Harris for strenuously objecting to the proposed fee.

Outside the bait shop near downtown, bass fishing enthusiast Dan Downing said he could have lived with the fees. Downing, who does construction estimating, also volunteers with the city’s fishing program for children.

“Our state parks are so valuable to us,” said Downing, 58, of Columbus. “When you consider $25 as a blanket fee for a year, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I’ll go into a state park 25 times a year.”

GAC
03-31-2005, 09:44 PM
At first when I heard the $5, I thought it was per person per day and said "yikes!". Then I read the $5 is per car. Then I read you can get an annual pass for $25.

I'll spring for the $25 to keep the parks afloat. That's not bad at all. That sticker will go up besides the Hamilton Co. and Butler Co. park stickers we already have.

I agree Roy. If you're one who uses the state parks quite frequently, then $25 for a year's pass seems reasonable. Look at what you're getting in return. To be able to take my family to Kiser or Indian Lake for a day of picnicing, swimming, or whatever, and only cost $5 is pretty reasonable to me.