DOCKED

The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

Hatcher said the parks sys­tem has been op­er­at­ing un­der state bud­get cuts for a num­ber of years and has had to work with a large num­ber of un­filled job va­can­cies.

“The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect is pretty sig­nif­i­cant,” Hatcher said. “There’s al­most a 20 per­cent va­cancy rate.”

At the re­quest of the gov­er­nor, the parks sys­tem is prepar- ing a list of rec­om­men­da­tions for a 6-10 per­cent bud­get cut.

In the mean­time, all parks main­te­nance projects have been sus­pended as has all travel for parks em­ploy­ees Hatcher said.

Ron­nie Eakins, re­gional op­er­a­tions man­ager for Ge­or­gia State Parks said there are about three po­si­tions at Hard La­bor Creek that they have not been able to fill be­cause of the state’s hir­ing mora­to­rium for all state agen­cies.

“We’re run­ning the park with about two-thirds the nor­mal staff,” he said.

Other cost cut­ting mea­sures at Hard La­bor Creek and other parks in­clude the scal­ing back of the num­ber of times the grass is cut to save on fuel.

“At Hard La­bor this month, we used 64 less gal­lons of fuel than we did the pre­vi­ous month,” Eakins said.

The parks are also re­duc­ing the num­ber of ranger pa­trols.

“In­stead of see­ing the ranger two to three times a night, you may only see him one time a night de­pend­ing on the us­age of the park,” Eakins said.

Some camp­ing ar­eas Hard La­bor Creek, which has 63 camp­sites, are also be­ing closed to save on the costs of main­tain­ing so many sites and on the power used to run the water heaters that ser­vice those sites Eakins said.

All of these cost cut­ting mea­sures at Hard La­bor have re­sulted in a $1,000 cost sav­ings in the first month that they were put in place he said.

“Ev­ery­thing we can do at each in­di­vid­ual site is go­ing to be cru­cial to help­ing us main­tain our op­er­a­tion,” Eakins said.

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