Yesterday, MACo, along with other local government leaders, testified before the State Park Investment Commission on a number of concerns facing state parks.
Steven Miller, Director of Wicomico County Recreation, Parks and Tourism, noted that county parks saw a 33% increase in use while at the same time they experienced a 33% shortage in staffing. “‘We get behind on routine tasks, the grass doesn’t stop growing,’…’At times, the level of service suffers and then we get caught in that endless cycle of trying to play catch up with aging park facilities…in addition to trying to develop new facilities'” (Maryland Matters).
MACo’s Executive Director, Michael Sanderson, provided commentary on the state’s funding mechanisms for parks and their unpredictability. “‘For the last several years, a share of state transfer tax that would have gone to Program Open Space has been the ‘centerpiece’ used to fund state parks’, said Michael Sanderson…But state transfer tax revenue ebbs and flows depending on the economy, so basing parks funding on it is ‘poor public policy'” (Maryland Matters).
The Commission, chaired by Former Governor Glendening and composed of eight high level delegates and senators, is investigating how best to maximize public use of Maryland’s portfolio of 70 public parks.