PUBLIC LANDS -- Nearly a third of Washington’s year-round state parks staffers are being notified this week that they likely will be laid off as a result of lagging sales of the new Discover Pass, according to the News Tribune in Tacoma.
Seasonal jobs will replace most of the 161 positions targeted in Tuesday’s action by the State Parks and Recreation Commission. Some of the same employees might end up taking those jobs, but only for about five months of the year.
The background for thise decision was detailed in my Sunday story, Cash-strapped State Parks banking on Discover Pass, new approach.
The cuts will mean less building maintenance and reaction to winter weather and damages.
The Legislature has cut off parks from state tax funding, banking on the belief that citizens love parks so much they'll buy the Discover Pass to support the system.
But that hasn't been the case, so far.
The parks commission Tuesday agreed to bridge the gap by dipping into reserves and making $11 million in cuts.
“We’re not giving up on the Discover Pass, saying it’s a failure or anything,” said the acting deputy director of parks, Ilene Frisch. “It’s a brand new program that hasn’t had time to gel yet.”
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, introduced legislation last week that will allow the passes to transfer between two cars -- dealing with one of the main public complaints about the Discover Pass vehicle access permit that debuted this year.
“Let’s hope that the changes we’re making will increase the revenue stream,” Ranker told the TNT. “If it doesn’t, then we need to come back together and we need to have a very serious discussion” about revenue.