Washington State Parks Seeking Fee Flexibility
Becoming a “fee for service” agency means the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission is being asked to allow park staff flexibility in offering seasonal campground rates and bundling associated fees and services.
New revenue opportunities intended to improve overall campground attendance and improve Washington state parks revenues are part of the commission’s meeting on Jan. 24 in Ocean Shores, the Port Townsend Leader reported.
Washington state parks draw no more state general fund revenue, although a legislative budget request has been made for 2013 without which more park closures are likely. Less-than-anticipated revenue from the Discover Pass has apparently led parks officials to seek more marketplace flexibility.
The commission has directed staff to consider best practices from the public and private sector with regard to pricing, while respecting the agency’s stewardship obligations and signature service and recreation opportunities that continue drawing the public for recreation, travel and enjoyment, according to a Jan. 17 press release.
Fee policies under consideration by the commission would involve setting base rates for primitive, standard, partial-utility and full-utility campsites – with variable pricing options typical in the private sector.
In a press release, the state agency stated that “staff believe the new fee structure will result in a lower average price for campsites over the course of a year. Additional revenue will be generated due to increased earnings from premier sites for weekends, holidays and prime seasons. A goal of these price changes is to increase overall occupancy throughout the year.”
Proposed 2014 base rates include:
- Primitive campsite: $12 (same as 2013).
- Standard (tent) site: $25 (8% increase).
- Partial-utility site: $30 (same as 2013).
- Full-utility site: $35 (8% increase).
In addition, the policy would allow the agency to charge up to an additional $15 for designated premier sites and up to $8 more for standard or $15 more for RV campsites on weekends and holidays. The policy also would enable the agency to discount up to $10 for designated economy sites year round and even greater discounts during the winter season.
The proposed policy change also would allow the agency flexibility in “bundling fees” that provide package incentives to visitors, and provide discounts to encourage use during lower visitation times. The policy under consideration also encourages responsible use of the reservation system so State Parks can maximize greater accessibility of campsites to everyone and limit loss of revenue due to customers reserving campsites but not canceling or showing up, thus tying up campsites others could be using.