ARIZONA HERITAGE ALLIANCE eNewsletter
Protecting Arizona’s Heritage Fund for today and tomorrow
August-September 2009 ~ Vol. 2, issue 6
“Thank you Arizona Heritage Alliance for the work you do on behalf of our parks!”
Aja DeZeeuw, Finance Director, Town of Superior
“Thank you Arizona Heritage Alliance for keeping the swiped grant issue alive, as well as keeping us informed.”
Vern Lamplot, Executive Director, Patronato San Xavier
The State Budget Crisis Continues… Legislature on verge of shutting park system
State Parks Board votes to reinstate Heritage Grants - Legislature's approval still needed
Arizona State Parks – our legislature's perennial cookie jar
Check our Website for the most up-to-date information on the Arizona Heritage Fund
1. My Turn: Legislature on verge of shutting park system - [Source: Camp Verde Bugle, 7-28-2009] - Without the Legislature's help in securing immediate additional revenues for Arizona State Parks, the current FY10 budget will force closure of virtually all state parks, shutting a system that serves more than two million visitors annually, while depriving local communities of some $266 million a year in parks-related income.
During a public workshop last week, State Parks Director Renee Bahl explained that legislative sweeps of parks funds, including $3 million in entry fee income, have left State Parks with only $8.4 million in operating revenues for the fiscal year. This compares to $30 million needed for bare bones operations, excluding any capital funds for repair of badly deteriorating historic buildings, unsafe sewer park systems and eroding lakefront facilities. Such scant operational money is not enough to even close, fence and guard Arizona's treasured array of 30 parks, recreation areas and historic sites, Bahl noted.
To avoid this disaster, somewhere between $18 million and $22 million must be restored to State Parks - an amount accounting for about 1/10th percent of the state's overall budget and less than a half percent of its current $4 billion deficit. Not to provide such modest funding will effectively wipe out more than 50 years of taxpayer investment in buying, building and opening such heavily-visited places as Kartchner Caverns; Havasu and Alamo lakes and on the state's west side; Slide Rock, Red Rock and Dead Horse Ranch state parks in Northern Arizona; and Catalina, Oracle and Patagonia Lake state parks in southeast Arizona to name a few.
The Legislature's strategy of granting State Parks limited authority to "backfill" its losses by skimming funds from voter-approved Heritage Fund monies, State Lake Improvement Funds and other special sources is no solution. None of these can provide what is needed to sustain Arizona's parks, some of which could revert to the federal government or original private owners if they are closed or not used.
If past Legislatures could keep parks open to Arizonans through 50 years of prior downturns, wars, gas crises and political turmoil, surely current lawmakers can find the revenues to do so - especially given the great economic value, popularity and intrinsic worth of our state parks.
President, Arizona State Parks Foundation
2. State Parks Board votes to reinstate Heritage Grants - Legislature's approval still needed
[Source: Florence Reminder, ©Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.8/5/ 2009] - The Heritage Fund was established through voter initiative in 1990. The approval of this initiative allows up to ten million dollars each year from the Arizona Lottery to be allocated to Arizona State Parks for the following uses:
* State Parks Acquisition and Development (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually
* State Parks Natural Areas Acquisition (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually
* State Parks Natural Areas Operation and Management (4%): Up to $400,000 annually
* Environmental Education (5%): Up to $500,000 annually
* Trails (5%): Up to $500,000 annually
* Local, Regional and State Parks (35%): Up to $3.5 million annually
* Historic Preservation (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually
In January 2009 due to state budget cuts, the Arizona State Parks Board voted to suspend all existing Heritage Fund Grants. As a result 28 Historic Preservation Grants, 10 Local, Regional and State Parks Grants, and 10 Trails Grants that were one to 90 percent complete were suspended. These 48 grants totaled $6,049,024. Eleven grants that were 91- 99 percent complete were allowed to continue.
The suspended grants included three in Florence. The Celaya/ Long/ Sweeney House at 170 East Ruggles; The Cuen House & Butcher Shop at 145 North Main St.; and the White Building at 118 East 13th St.
Unfortunately 23 grants that had been awarded but no funds expended were canceled. This included a $150,000 grant for the 1891 2nd Pinal County Courthouse. These grants were primarily grants that had been awarded in 2008. Fortunately three grants that had been awarded in 2008 had expended funds; therefore, they were suspended and not canceled. There were no grant cycles in 2009 and the Parks Board voted at the August 3, 2009 meeting to cancel the 2010 grant cycles. These Heritage Funds are being used for State Parks operating funds since the Legislature is not budgeting any General Funds for State Parks.
At the State Parks Board Meeting on Monday, August 3, the vote was unanimous to reinstate the funding of the Heritage Fund Grants suspended in FY 2009 and extend the terms of the affected grant contracts up to 12 months.
Unfortunately there were two conditions attached to this process. Before the grants can go forward this decision must receive a favorable review by the State Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Environmental Budget Reconciliation Bill must be approved which provides operational authority for the State Parks Board. It is unknown how long it will take for these last two requirements to happen or if they will happen.
Florence Preservation Foundation
3. Arizona State Parks – our legislature's perennial cookie jar - Our State Parks' money - both General Fund and Heritage Fund have once again been dipped into to balance the state budget. The perennial cookie jar will soon be empty. The exact figures for 2010 are not yet in but they promise to take the parks and the agency to its knees without enough funding even to close the parks system down. The devastation left after the 2009 Budget is barely enough to keep the doors open at OUR Parks agency and at the parks themselves. How sad! Arizona is home to some of the most diverse and unique flora, fauna, and landscapes and historic monuments most likely all in jeopardy when the 2010 Budget surfaces. Doesn't the Legislature realize that all of this belongs to everyone not just in Arizona but also in the rest of the world? All of those appreciative visitors bring in tremendous amounts of money for the agency, the state, and the local economies. If parks go under so do all of those.
This sort of banditry by the legislature has a nearly 20-year history. As soon as the Arizona Heritage Fund was conceived and voted in by 2/3 of the voters in 1990, the legislature began dismantling the Parks Department's General Fund money. Today, a fraction remains and the legislature tells Parks to "backfill" those losses with their "other" funds, like the Heritage Fund.
How can that be when the Heritage Fund is specifically designed by citizen initiative to be used ONLY for certain purposes, in certain percentages, largely for grants? It was not intended by Arizona's citizens to be used for general parks operations. Now in 2010, it will probably have to be so.
We know through past and recent polling that the citizens of this state care deeply about their parks and the Heritage Fund over which 33 battles with the Legislature have been successfully waged. The 34th is being lost. Only the people can stop the funding drain by contacting their representatives, senators, and the governor at the Capitol.
The legislators and governor must hear from everyone - NOW. Please consider signing onto the Heritage Alliance’s “Dear Legislator Letter” and joining the Arizona Heritage Alliance today. Together we can make a difference!!!
If you or an organization you represent would like to sign a letter to protect the Heritage Fund, send us an e-mail at email@example.com and include your name, mailing address, e-mail, and state legislative district. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/de6c6k. If you’ve already signed on, we thank you for your support. To locate your district, click on: http://tinyurl.com/cowk4b
Thank you for your support.
Elizabeth T. Woodin
President, Arizona Heritage Alliance
4. Check our Website for the most up-to-date information on the Arizona Heritage Fund - Check it out at: www.azheritage.org. Our website has a whole new look. It is more interactive and visual pleasing. Let us know what you think by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Contact us:
Janice Miano, Director of Administration
The Arizona Heritage Alliance
PO Box 16282, Phoenix AZ 85011-6282
Help Protect, Preserve and Enhance the Arizona Heritage Fund.
Join the Arizona Heritage Alliance. Go to www.azheritage.org and click on the “membership info” link.
Dinghy Digest ®