Mon, July 22

Letter: State Parks help generate sales tax


After reading your article on the budget cuts for the State Parks and the parks considered for closing, I just had to comment.

Parks Director Ken Travous is essentially quoted as saying that he put Red Rock State Park on the list because the Parks Board members felt it attracted too high of a percentage of out-of-state visitors. If the Parks Board members are in a paid position, then they all ought to be fired for being too stupid to sit in that position, and if they are volunteers then they should be replaced with people who understand simple economic policies.

The whole reason all state budgets are being cut is because there is not enough revenue being generated to pay for expenses. Do these people not understand that out-of-state visitors to our parks are also generating sales tax revenue when they visit and/or stay in the cities and towns nearby the parks that they visit? And by patronizing local hotels and merchants that they also help to keep people employed and keep the companies that employ them in business?

Surely the Board members realize that the revenue for our State Parks comes from sales taxes and income taxes, both personal and business. And if they don't then it is Ken Travous' job as director to enlighten them so he does not waste more of our state budget money coming up with inane ideas on which parks to close. Maybe, and sadly he is like many other of our public officials and government employees who are too concerned with not losing their jobs than they are with doing their jobs.

I understand, as do most Arizonans, that in these tough economic times we need to tighten our belts and be prepared to make sacrifices. But it makes no sense to close parks in or near cities and towns that actually help to increase revenue into our state through tourism. Of the other two parks that were added to the top of Ken Travous' list, Jerome State Park probably also helps with local tourism. Yet his decision to close it and move three of the full time employees to other state parks does not make much sense either.

I would imagine that a big part of each park's budget is employee salaries. I don't want to see anyone lose their job, but most of us who run companies in the private sector are having to make those decisions. And if the state is still going to have those salaries in their budget, there can't be much net gain by closing the Jerome Park, especially if it too is a tourism draw that is helping to generate sales tax revenue in Jerome.

Peter Curé