Illinois DNR: State Park Rescue Not a Panacea
Soon, Illinois license plate will be a motorist's ticket into the Illinois State Parks system.
But park visitors hoping to see repairs and renovations at the parks will need to be patient as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) begins to receive funds from a bill that includes a $2 surcharge on license plate renewals, the Peoria Journal Star reported.
The Illinois Senate passed SB 1566 Nov. 28. The bill allows DNR charge fees for some services, such as endangered species consultation, and to receive a $2 surcharge on a $99 license plate renewal to help pay for upkeep at state parks.
Eventually, as much as $32 million per year could be realized from license plate renewals and new fees.
When that money starts to come in, said DNR director Marc Miller, crumbling roads, sagging roofs and aging sewage treatment plants at the parks will be the top priority.
However, it will take awhile for enough money to start making a difference to roll in.
“We will probably need nine to 12 months to see the revenue from these very different revenue streams,” Miller said.
And according to DNR, Illinois State Parks face a backlog of $750 million in deferred capital projects and maintenance.
Last spring, DNR was looking at a budget shortfall of $22 million by the end of this fiscal year June 30, but Miller said a combination of budget cutting and other factors combined with the new revenue have left the agency in a better position.
“We all have to understand there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done, and this will not be a panacea,” he said.