Budget Woes

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Clay Phillips, Reserve Manager

I’m in my 16th month serving in a dual capacity as both “Reserve Manager” and “Acting District Superintendent, San Diego Coast District” for California State Parks.  I truly apologize for my reduced involvement at TRNERR and any delays or problems my absenteeism has caused.  It is simply a reflection of the short-term fiscal condition and related uncertainties that currently envelope California State Parks (see next paragraph).  You may be wondering why I haven’t selected an “Acting” Reserve Manager.  In consultation with all the TRNERR Program Managers, I decided that the best approach would be to allow the Program Managers to continue to fully attend to their business, without any one of them distracted by having to also serve as Reserve Manager. At the last quarterly Advisory Council meeting it was apparent that each program is moving along very well, with many accomplishments and many key issues being addressed.

California State Parks is closing 70 parks throughout the state; the majority are located north of Los Angeles.  However, the remaining parks are not unscathed by the state’s budget woes.  In order to remain within reduced allocations this past year, districts throughout the state have had to keep positions vacant and reduce services to an unprecedented degree.  (The vacancy rate in San Diego Coast District is 27%.)  The coming fiscal year (starting July 1) will be even worse, with a further reduction in our allocation estimated between 3% to 5%.

As you know, there have been serious problems in finalizing the federal budget.  As a result, we have still not received the green light to submit the annual grant application for the Reserve’s Operation funding (approximately $560,000).  That submission usually occurs in April, so we’re especially late this year.  In addition, we expect to receive level funding this coming year.  While it could be worse, level funding is like a decrease because our costs have continued to rise.

As a result of funding shortfalls on both the state and federal side, we need to consider various cost-saving measures.  Please be patient as we explore the range of options; I hope to have more information to share soon.

– Clay Phillips, TRNERR Reserve Manager,
Acting District Superintendent San Diego Coast District, California State Parks