OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1061 (File 557, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY OF STATE PARKS.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires anyone who has a contract with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) for the operation of a food service facility, vending machine, or stand in a state park to report annually by December 1 to DORS the revenue generated under the contract. DORS must submit the reports to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner, who must compile certain information about the generated revenue, including if any is paid to the state.

The bill also requires the DEEP commissioner to (1) develop a request for information (RFI) on operating concessions, providing services, and offering recreational amenities at state parks and (2) provide the Environment Committee a written evaluation of the responses by December 1, 2015.

Additionally, the bill requires the DEEP commissioner to (1) establish fees for renting state park property for special events of limited duration (e.g., weddings and receptions) based on the number of people in attendance and (2) expand the Adopt a Park program to accept charitable donations.

*Senate Amendment “A” replaces the original bill (File 557), which included similar provisions, but also (1) increased registration fees by $5 for motorcycles and passenger motor vehicles; (2) made the $5 increase a charitable donation to the state parks sustainability account, which the bill established; and (3) extended parking fee collection at shoreline state parks through September.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015, except for provisions relating to state park concessions, which are effective on passage.

1 – STATE PARK CONCESSION REVENUE REPORTS

The bill requires anyone who has a contract with DORS for the operation of a food service facility, vending machine, or stand in a state park to report annually by December 1 to DORS the revenue generated under the contract.

By January 1 annually, DORS must compile the reports and give them to the DEEP commissioner. By January 30 annually, the commissioner must compile information on the:

1. number of food service facilities, vending machines, and stands in state parks, and the location of the respective parks;

2. amount of revenue generated by the facilities, machines, and stands;

3. contractual agreement or statute that (a) requires a portion of the revenue be paid to the state or (b) prohibits or limits such a payment;

4. amount of revenue paid to the state in the calendar year; and

5. how the state used the revenue, if he knows.

2 – STATE PARK CONCESSION REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner, by August 15, 2015, to develop an RFI on operating concessions, providing services, and offering recreational amenities at state parks. The concessions must be year-round and share revenue with DEEP through a revenue sharing formula. Services must include parking options such as advanced reservation and curbside parking.

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner, by September 15, 2015, to forward (1) the RFI to the administrative services commissioner for posting on the state's contracting portal and (2) a copy of the RFI to any private vendor he knows that provides such concessions, services, and amenities.

By December 1, 2015, the DEEP commissioner must forward to the Environment Committee a (1) copy of the responses the RFI generated and (2) written evaluation of the responses, including any recommendation for offering concessions, services, and amenities at state parks that are not already offered as of the bill's passage.

3 – SPECIAL EVENT USER FEES AT STATE PARKS

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner, by July 31, 2015, to establish fees for renting state park property for special events of limited duration (e.g., weddings and receptions) that increase with the number of people attending the event.

By law, such fees must be deposited into the “maintenance, repair, and improvement account” in the General Fund, unless the commissioner specifically agrees otherwise (CGS 23-15b). Account funds are used to make improvements to state parks.

4 – ADOPT A PARK PROGRAM

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner, by July 31, 2015, to amend its “Adopt a Park” program to recognize those who financially sponsor a park through charitable contributions of at least $2,500. The commissioner must recognize a sponsor by putting up a placard at the adopted park that shows the person's, organization's, or corporation's name and level of sponsorship. He may establish multiple tiers for sponsorship.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

27

Nay

1

(03/20/2015)

Transportation Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

28

Nay

4

(04/20/2015)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

53

Nay

2

(05/11/2015)