Host Marcia Franklin talks with Idaho Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Merrill about the future of her agency, which at one point looked like it would be eliminated.
Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter appointed Merrill, the former mayor of Eagle, ID, to her position in September, 2009. She oversees a $38.4 million budget, 165 fulltime employees and several hundred seasonal employees.
Currently, $6.7 million, or 18% of the Parks and Recreation budget, comes from the state general fund. The rest comes from user fees and federal monies. The original governor's recommendation was to reorganize the agency into the Department of Lands and the Department of Fish and Game. Director Merrill had also indicated that several parks, including Thousand Springs and Yankee Fork, might have to be closed.
A revised proposal, released on January 22, keeps the department whole, but calls for a reduction of 25 personnel and $5 million in general funds.
Director Merrill, who speaks to the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee on Feb. 1, will discuss in more detail her plans to keep the agency running and parks open.