2006-05-20 / Top News

House Puts $200,000 Back in MSHP Funds

By Karen Gould

The State Budget Office proposal for fiscal year 2007 leaves Mackinac State Historic Parks $200,000 shy of last year's appropriation of $1.5 million. Appropriation subcommittees in both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives have restored the funds, but approval by the full Senate and House is required before the final budget is presented to Governor Jennifer Granholm.

For the second year, Mackinac State Historic Parks is fighting to retain its eroding state appropriation, which supports park operations. The executive branch recommended cutting $200,000 from the general fund for FY 2007 and suggested that the park commission replace the money through increased park operational fees.

Since 2002, Mackinac State Historic Parks general fund appropriation has been reduced by $500,000, or 25 percent.

The 2007 fiscal year begins October 1 and the budget must be approved by then.

The Mackinac State Historic Parks raises approximately $150,000 in operational fees through motor vehicle permits, British Landing docking fees, airport fees, lease fees, and license fees, said Director Phil Porter.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee for History, Arts and Libraries is chaired by Representative Fran Amos of Waterford, who sponsored HB 5782 to return the funding, although since its introduction on March 1, it remains stalled at the appropriations committee level. On May 16, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee followed suit and also restored the funding.

The situation was similar last spring, except the state proposed the elimination of the entire $1.5 million appropriation. The appropriation was subsequently restored in full, but the threat caused park staff to look for other sources of revenue to fund its $5.7 million budget. It came

up with about $200,000 by increasing fees, renting facilities, and licensing bicycles, but will raise only about $21,000 of that this summer. The money will come from a $15,000 rental of the Matthew Geary House on Market Street, $5,400 rental of the east side of the Visitor's Center dock, and $500 rental fees for its "Somewhere in Time" gazebo, which it is marketing for weddings.

Mackinac State Historic Parks is operated by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, an agency under the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Facilities include Fort Mackinac, four downtown museums, and approximately 80 percent of the landmass on Mackinac Island, and Colonial Michilimackinac, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and Historic Mill Creek on the mainland.

Commissioners will hold their first meeting of the season at the Post Hospital at Fort Mackinac Saturday, May 27, at 1:30 p.m.

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