State park entrance fees might be raised for 2013MILBANK — The director for South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas said he doesn’t know yet if his budget will need the additional revenue next year.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
MILBANK — The director for South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas said he doesn’t know yet if his budget will need the additional revenue next year.
But Doug Hofer started laying the foundation Thursday for a possible request to increase park entrance license prices for 2013.
Hofer told members of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission that he might suggest raising the annual entrance license to $30 from the present $28.
The price for an additional license would rise to $15 from $14, while the transferrable license would go to $65 from $60.
Those increases would generate an estimated $150,000 to $160,000 of additional revenue, according to Hofer.
“That’s on a $10 million budget. It’s a modest proposal, if it comes to that. We’re not even ready today to suggest that proposal,” he told commissioners.
Parks division revenue dropped by about $1 million in 2011 as the result of flood-related declines in camping and visits.
Hofer said the budget has more than recovered this year. Camping use reached 174,000 units through July, already well ahead of the fullyear record of 166,000 set in 2010, and visits are up 18 percent at state parks and rec areas.
“We’re having a great year,” Hofer said. “Hopefully, August will cool down and we’ll stay on this pace.”
Park entrance fees have been at their current levels since 2009. Camping fees were increased in 2010.
If a fee increase is to be sought, the recommendation will be made to the commission in October. Hofer said he’s still going through the budget process with the governor’s office.
“It just makes more sense to gradually increase that fee and keep ourselves whole” rather than wait 10 years and go through the difficulties of a large increase, Hofer said.