[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — As the Arizona State Parks Board was entering the budget crisis that threatens to close eight parks and cause dozens of layoffs, the board gave its director an 11% raise. Ken Travous, who has worked for the board since 1986, saw his salary increase in November by more than $14,000, to $142,811. The move was made retroactive to July 1, 2008, to ensure Travous receives increased benefits when he retires June 30.
The news has rankled some parks employees, who are bracing for possible layoffs when the board considers closing parks later this month. Most state employees received raises of 2% or less over the past four years. Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, said salary increases for top officials can make it more difficult to convince the Legislature that more funds are needed for park operating expenses. “Throwing that into the mix kind of undercuts the message,” she said. “When you’re talking about laying people off and furloughing people and closing parks, everyone is going to have to do their part. So it does not seem like a good time.”
Board Chairman Reese Woodling said Travous approached him about a raise last year, noting that he had not received a salary increase since 2004. Woodling, who helped hire Travous, said Travous has a distinguished record of service and deserved a raise. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]