RD451 - A Review of the Fee Development Process for Camping and Cabin Fees in Virginia State Parks – November 2016

Executive Summary:
The authority of the Department of Conservation and Recreation to charge rental rates for cabins and campgrounds, as well as fees for services, within Virginia State Parks is found in Title 10.1 of the Code of Virginia. Specifically, § 10.1-200.3 states that “[n]o person shall make use of, gain admittance to, or attempt to use or gain admittance to the facilities in any state park for the use of which a charge is assessed by the Department, unless the person pays the charge or price established by the Department.”

The Department currently applies the following principles in the establishment of fees for park facilities and services:

• Offer Virginia State Park facilities and services to the public at rates that the citizens of the Commonwealth find to be reasonable and appropriate and which prevent pricing from becoming a barrier to participation as much as possible;

• Create the simplest and most efficient pricing system possible, while at the same time employing common business practices such as seasonal pricing and market based adjustments;

• Offer discounted pricing on overnight services to Virginians in recognition of their tax support for the creation and maintenance of the state park system;

• Maintain equal access to all camping and cabins facilities through the provision of an effective Overnight Reservations System that consists of both online and call-center services; and

• Set prices with consideration of the effects on private providers of similar services while at the same time recognizing the fundamental differences in the public and private sectors, especially as they relate to public expectations and preferences.

As a means to ensure public access, the assessed fee schedule is published annually as a regulation in accordance with the statutory authority to adopt rules and regulations necessary to carry out statutorily mandated duties (§ 10.1-104).

As reflected in this report and as demonstrated in the current Virginia State Parks fee schedule, the Department considers seasonal usage, local and regional markets, travel trends, weather, geographic location, and time of year when establishing rental rates for state park cabins and campsites. It is the determination of the Department that the current base cabin and campsite rental rates remain in place.

This determination takes into account the rate of increase over the past few years, and other public and private operated recreational facilities, while assuring fair and affordable public access. The Department will implement mechanisms to allow for additional dynamic pricing opportunities and simplify the process of reviewing and revising all fees in addition to the cabin and campsite rental rates.