Clark County Commissioner David Madore looks like he’ll keep his campaign pledge to eliminate parking fees at regional parks, which he wrote about in Sunday’s newspaper.
Before we get to why he’ll keep his promise, let’s set one thing straight.
Funny that he started the column by saying he wants to put rumors to rest, and proceeds to tell one. “Our county can do parks smarter without a Vancouver parks director paid more than our top county administrator …” Madore wrote.
He was repeating a mistake that had been made in a Columbian article, when a reporter said interim Parks Director Laura Hudson’s salary was $164,000. Nice to know that Madore is reading the paper, but he does have access to salary information. Even if the parks director was making that much, it would still be less than County Administrator Bill Barron, who earns $174,000 a year.
For Hudson, the $164,000 represents the total cost of her position, including payroll taxes, pension and benefits. In 2012, Hudson, the former city Community and Economic Development director, earned $129,300.
Fun fact: The only county employee who earns more than Barron is Dr. Dennis Wickham, the medical examiner. (And if you want more top public salaries, go here.)
A work session is scheduled for Wednesday on parking fees at county parks, and it looks like Madore has Commissioner Tom Mielke on his side. That means it will be free to park at Frenchman’s Bar, Klineline, Vancouver Lake and Lewisville, but the $325,000 in lost annual revenues will be taken out of the general fund.
Interim Vancouver Police Chief Chris Sutter urged commissioners in a March 5 letter to keep parking lot attendants, who used to collect fees, on the payroll to “help reinforce park rules and a safe park user environment.”
Frenchman’s Bar and Vancouver Lake regional parks are within VPD’s service areas, Sutter wrote.
“Both of these parks are very popular to users looking to enjoy the swimming and water contact opportunities of the Columbia River and Vancouver Lake,” Sutter wrote. “Alcohol related offenses have historically been a problem at Frenchman’s Bar Park. Drowning deaths have unfortunately occurred at both of these locations, and will always remain a risk. These risks will likely increase if the parks are not managed and controlled as well as they currently are,” Sutter wrote.
VPD officers and deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office used to patrol regional parks on horseback, bicycles and on foot, Sutter wrote, but haven’t due to budget constraints. Instead, law enforcement rely on on-site parks staff.
“They assist with the numerous large events that take place in the summer, resolve conflicts and their presence discourages the use of drugs and alcohol,” Sutter wrote.
Madore told senior staffers this week he doesn’t want a presentation from law enforcement or anyone else on Wednesday, and just wants to put the matter to a vote.
Looks like this summer, should Madore have his U.S. Digital company picnic at Vancouver Lake again, he won’t have to pay $150 ($3 for 50 cars) for employees to park.