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Monday, June 28, 2010 - 8:29am

State Parks Strike Unique Deal

As Georgia’s state parks enter a new fiscal year with a slimmer budget, the system is getting creative in cutting-back. To that end, there’s a new partnership it’s calling a “first in recent memory”.

That partnership is with Carroll County in west Georgia. Kim Hatcher with Georgia's State Parks says the unique deal calls for the county to take-over management of John Tanner State Park on Thursday when the new fiscal year begins.

“This is the first time in recent history that we’ve transferred a state park management to a different government agency. But we have been working with a number of communities around our state’s historic sites, to either increase the hours that they’re open, or to completely operate them for us.”

Carroll County Commission Chairman Bill Chappell says to pay for management costs, his government will get money from daily parking fees, a percentage of concessions, and revenue from items like RV and lodge rentals. He says it's hoped that will amount to a projected $384,000 annually to cover management expenses.

Chappell says down the line, there’s more planned.

“We’re just trying to keep it rolling...particularly this first year. So we would look to add amenities...there’s a lot of unused land there and I’m sure we’ll be putting in some trails. I’m excited about it.”

Chappell says the agreement calls for the county to own the park land in two to three years.

The state park systems’ budget was cut 40-percent last year. That included layoffs and reduced hours for some parks and historic sites.

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