Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vehicle registration fee is option to fund Michigan's parks

Five years ago, state park officials in Montana found themselves where Michigan is today: Losing general fund support and taking in inadequate user fees to sustain the state's park system.

They came up with a novel idea: Do away with windshield stickers and instead charge every motorist $4 for the privilege to visit Montana's 53 parks. By all accounts, it's an unqualified success.

"This is a superior system," said Chas Van Genderen, acting director of Montana state parks.

Motorists can opt out of paying the charge on their vehicle registration, but only 12 percent do. Park attendance swelled by 700,000 visitors a year and the budget increased from $450,000 to $2 million in the first year and reached $2.6 million last year.

Some in Michigan are looking to copy that system. Legislation has been introduced to charge a $10 vehicle registration fee to replace the $24 annual park fee sticker. The Department of Natural Resources says it needs an additional $38 million a year to maintain parks and infrastructure. Going to the registration fee could generate $47 million annually.
Full Story...
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