A Performance Audit Of Utah State Parks - Utah Legislature - Utah.gov

Jan 18, 2011 - division should also begin to manage parks as independent business ... services, programs, and significantly reduce staff presence at parks to ...... Fremont Complex includes Fremont Indian State Park, Piute ...... of facilities, hosting visitors who enjoy coming to the parks when they are less crowded, and.
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REPORT TO THE UTAH LEGISLATURE Number 2011-03

A Performance Audit Of Utah State Parks

January 2011

Office of the LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR GENERAL State of Utah

STATE OF UTAH

Office of the Legislative Auditor General 315 HOUSE BUILDING • PO BOX 145315 • SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84114-5315 (801) 538-1033 • FAX (801) 538-1063

Audit Subcommittee of the Legislative Management Committee President Michael G. Waddoups, Co–Chair • Speaker Rebecca D. Lockhart, Co–Chair Senator Ross I. Romero • Representative David Litvack

JOHN M. SCHAFF, CIA AUDITOR GENERAL

January 18, 2011

TO: THE UTAH STATE LEGISLATURE

Transmitted herewith is our report, A Performance Audit of Utah State Parks (Report #2011-03). A digest is found on the blue pages located at the front of the report. The objectives and scope of the audit are explained in the Introduction. We will be happy to meet with appropriate legislative committees, individual legislators, and other state officials to discuss any item contained in the report in order to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations. Sincerely,

John M. Schaff, CIA Auditor General JMS/lm

Digest of A Performance Audit of Utah State Parks With state park systems across the nation under pressure to reduce use of taxpayer funds, this audit was requested by the Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee to identify strategies for the Utah state park system to be more self sufficient and reduce its reliance on the General Fund. The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation (division) oversees 43 state parks and has responsibility for patrolling thousands of miles of off-highway-vehicle (OHV) and snowmobiling trails, as well as the state’s waterways. Division Needs to Develop a More Business Focused Operation to Improve Park System Efficiency. This chapter describes a number of business practices and cost cutting strategies that should help the division reduce its reliance on the General Fund. The General Fund represents nearly one third of the division’s revenues which are used mainly to cover the operating deficits at state parks. We recommend that the Legislature consider gradually reducing the division’s General Fund appropriation over the next few years. The division should also begin to manage parks as independent business units, adopt better accounting tools for managing the park system and consider return on investment before advancing capital projects. Decreasing Operating Expenses by Reducing the Cost of Park Staff Is Achievable. Staffing expenses represent 60% of the division’s total costs and the division will need to evaluate the necessity of some positions if it is to become less reliant on the General Fund. This chapter identifies four strategies to achieve budget reductions and improve park efficiency through staffing modifications. First, the division relies on full-time staff at parks even though visitation is highly seasonal. The division should use a lower-cost staffing methodology that emphasizes a reduction of full-time employees and supplements peak demands with more seasonal staff. Second, additional savings can be created by reducing state and regional overhead costs. Third, downsizing law enforcement at parks where there is less need for police power would reduce additional unnecessary costs. Finally, consolidating park manager positions will enable one manager to oversee multiple parks. Phasing in a mix of

Office of the Utah Legislative Auditor General

Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter II: Improved Business Practices Should Reduce Reliance on General Fund

Chapter III: Management of Staff Resources Must Improve

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these strategies will move the division toward a more efficient park system that is less reliant on the General Fund.

Chapter IV: Some Parks Should Reduce Services While Others May Need to Close

Parks Need to Modify Operations to Align