[Source: Craig Harris, The Republic] – Arizona Parks Director Bryan Martyn said his agency has “critical funding issues” and is asking for additional state funding of about $15.5million for capital projects, operations and staff. Martyn, a self-described fiscal conservative who is just a few months into the parks job, has asked Gov. Jan Brewer, a fellow Republican, for the additional money in the fiscal 2014 state budget, which begins next July 1. “Arizona State Parks is a car running down the road 100 miles per hour with bald tires,” said Martyn, who became parks director May 1. “We need money for tires and gas.”
Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said the governor and her budget team will weigh Martyn’s proposals. “The Parks Department request has come in like all other budget requests,” Benson said. “The budget process is under way, and the governor’s proposal will come out in the middle of January.” Benson declined to say whether Brewer would support additional funds for state parks.
Martyn said his department is seeking the additional funds because state parks have experienced significant cuts the past few years and have deteriorated. Parks need improvements, he said, because they are a product on which many Arizonans and out-of-state visitors are willing to spend money for something they enjoy.
Some of the money Martyn seeks would fund electrification of campsites at Catalina State Park near Tucson and new launch ramps for boats, roads and parking at Lake Havasu State Park. Martyn said the enhancements would increase visits by customers.
Martyn also wants to:
- Build and install a potable-water line from Benson to Kartchner Caverns State Park in Cochise County, replacing the current well that draws water from an aquifer that feeds the caverns.
- Replace a 40-year-old wastewater-treatment plant for Patagonia Lake State Park near Nogales to bring the facility into compliance with state environmental-quality standards.
- Maintain base salaries for employees who received raises this fiscal year and add seven staff members for program management and administration.
- Make non-routine repairs and maintenance within the park system.
The state went into its current budget cycle with more than $800 million in cash on hand. Martyn said he believes the state can afford to make an investment in parks. “I will use the money wisely to enhance the product,” said Martyn, who oversees a $21.1 million annual budget with 146 full-time positions. The state has 30 parks, with 27 in operation.
Martyn, a former Pinal County supervisor with 20 years of military experience, said he also plans to aggressively court lawmakers who will craft a budget with Brewer. “Every day, we have to sell state parks,” he said.