A year ago, the parks system suffered the one-two punch of the devastating derecho, followed by the “Frankenstorm” that piled several feet of heavy, wet snow on much of the state, Caplinger told the panel.
“It wasn’t just the impact of when the lights were out,” he said.
“Our business suffered for months and months. It was just starting to rebound after the derecho when the big Super Storm Sandy hit. It was devastating. I’ve got to tell you. I look every day at our revenues. Our business still has not rebounded from pre-storm levels.”
Among possible sources of operating capital are soft drink and bottled water taxes, motor vehicle fees, sales taxes and severance on natural resources, and an entry fee at parks.
West Virginia ranks 18th nationally in self-sufficiency with a rating of 54 percent. The national average is 45.07 percent. Among parks that don’t impose an entry fee, only Alabama and Rhode Island outrank West Virginia.
“We’ve got to face the facts,” Caplinger said. “This is a 75-year-old system of this magnitude and size. Folks, we’re going to have to fix it up and protect this legacy and preserve it, or it’s going to fall down around our ears.”
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