Changes made to state park fees, possibly more to come

Several issues related to state park fees were addressed at Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Pratt.

Robin Jennison, department secretary, told of his goal to make it possible to purchase annual state park passes at a reduced rate when people register their cars and light trucks. It’s hoped the ease of the purchase and modest price could lead to more sales.

Under his plan the annual passes would be $15, compared to up to $24.50 under the current system of purchasing permits at agency locations. He hopes the legislature will OK the idea next session. The purchases will be voluntary.

“If we get ten-percent (of registrations to purchase passes) that will mean $3.8 million,” Jennison said, “and I think we can do better than that, really.”

Also at the meeting Linda Lanterman, state park director, began the proceedings to end the discount rate for those who purchase annual permits for a second vehicle.

Currently prices for one vehicle are $24.50 if bought April 1-Sept. 30 and $19.70 the rest of the year. Owners could then buy a permit for a second vehicle they own for $14.70 or $12.20 respectively.

Lanterman said the current option has been plagued by fraud.

She also said this year’s bad weather statewide seriously reduced state park income. State park budgets were already very tight heading into the year. Last night’s proposal will need to be discussed and eventually voted on at several commission meetings.

Last night commissioners voted to raise utility rates $1. Lanterman said their utility fees were about $400,000 over what was budgeted.

Commissioners also lowered the annual camping permits $50 hoping to increase sales. Off-season purchases will be $150 and prime-season $200.