2005-05-13 / News

Island Park Commission Funds Reinstated

Organization Still Faces Hurdles Before State Budget Is Adopted
By Ryan Schlehuber

Mackinac Island State Park Commission’s state appropriation of $1.5 million has been reinstated by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Histories, Arts, and Libraries, but still faces a number of hurdles before the state budget is adopted, probably in late September.

The subcommittee approved a change to Senate Bill 247, which reinstated $1.5 million to the Park Commission that Governor Jennifer Granholm originally proposed to be cut.

The bill has yet to be approved by the full Senate and go through the budget process in the House, so the funding is not assured. A final stamp of approval will come from Governor Granholm.

Since the governor’s office recommended in February that all of the Mackinac Island Park Commission’s state appropriation be cut, park commissioners searched for ways to raise money from federal grants, private donations, and corporate sponsorships, but could only manage to muster a potential $152,200 increase by raising fees and earned income within its own operations.

That left a $1.3 million shortfall.

The Park Commission’s budget is $5.7 million this year, with $1.49 million coming from the state’s general fund. The state’s contribution, which has been made since Mackinac Island became the first state park in Michigan in 1895, has been declining steadily in the new millennium, from $2 million in fiscal year 2001 to this year’s $1.49 million. The Park Commission was facing the possibility of no appropriations from the state in the next fiscal year, which will begin October 1.

“I am hopeful that we can maintain this funding for the Mackinac Island State Park,” said State Senator Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, who has supported the appropriation. “When you ask people from all around what is one thing they know about northern Michigan, they say Mackinac Island. The Mackinac Island State Park is the crown jewel in Michigan’s tourist economy and I will continue to work with my fellow legislators in the House and the Senate to keep this critical funding intact.”

The Park Commission staged an appeal Monday, April 11, at the State Capitol building, just two floors from Governor Jennifer Granholm’s office, to draw attention to the ramifications of a proposed $1.49 million cut.

The cut would come in the commission’s 2005/06 fiscal year budget, which begins October 1, and the purpose of the Lansing meeting was to present a report on what the commission is doing to raise more revenue, and what programs it will need to cut if the governor and legislature withhold the state appropriation.

The Commission operates Mackinac State Historic Parks, which includes Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island and Colonial Michilimackinac, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and Historic Mill Creek in Mackinaw City.

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