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WV state parks look to improve budget

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Emily Fleming, acting director for the parks division of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, said the system is look to cut spending and adjust rates.

During an interim committee meeting at the State Capitol Fleming told lawmakers of the state parks plans to take a closer look at their budget.

"As things change, develop, we are always making changes," Fleming said. "We're hoping that we fill the lodge at Canaan (Valley State Park) every weekend and we do hit the number of skiers we're projecting each year."

Fleming said administrators are working on the budget.

She said adapting a rate system needs to maximize rates during prime seasons and offer specials during the off season.

Specials, reduced rates and recreational packaging are some of the division's ideas, she said.

The revenue system generated by each state park takes a look at the amount of money the system makes as a whole. That system includes facilities such as lodging, which brings in $6.4 million, cabins bring in $4.6 million, food and beverage at $1.7 million, camping at $1.6 million, gift shop sales and golfing both at $1.6 million.

As a whole, the parks bring in about $9.7 million in general revenue while $2.1 million is spent for employee salary and benefits and about $5 million goes to repairs and equipment upgrades.

In total, the immediate needs system administrators said they are looking at in order to be fully operational is estimated to be about $8.6 million.

"Right now we can make it through the middle of January with our park revenue we collect," Fleming said. "We are looking and working closely with (the legislator and administration) to see what our needs are."

Fleming said in the parks business they always appreciate when Mother Nature cooperates as well.

"Cold evenings are great for making snow," she added. "It's very hard for us to balance that budget -- everybody realizes what we do for the local economy."

She said it is a question of how much money is out there for the parks to remain doing what they do.

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