The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) released a report on Mississippi’s state parks.
State parks in Mississippi have been a topic of conversation for the last year by lawmakers. The state’s parks have slowly but surely dilapidated over the years do to lack of care and upkeep.
PEER concluded that without an annual general fund appropriation state park operations would not be self-sustaining. These parks often rely on contract workers for 39% of the workforce, which means staff at the parks are often changing.
They found that there was a lack of prioritization in maintenance planning, strategic marketing and accountability for cash payments make at entrances.
The state’s parks also face competition from other neighboring states, federal parks and private parks. This impacts the market share of outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
From FY 2018 until FY 2020 it was found that state park operations incurred an average net loss of $3,744,744 if general revenue is not included. This indicated that state parks are not sustainable financially on their own.
The major findings by the committee include:
- Without an annual general fund appropriation, state park operations are not self-sustaining.
- The state park system relies on contract workers for 39% of the state park workforce, which creates a revolving door of staff within the state park system.
- Internal challenges facing the state park system include a lack of prioritization in maintenance planning, a lack of strategic marketing, and a lack of accountability for cash payments made at park entrances.
- Many of the internal issues facing the state park system could be addressed if department staff used available financial and programmatic data to guide decision-making.
- Mississippi’s state park system faces competition from other state, federal, and private competitors that affect the state park system’s market share of outdoor enthusiasts.
- The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the Legislature have options available to improve existing park operations and/or to improve the economic and intrinsic value of Mississippi’s state parks.
You can read the full report below: