Las Vegas Sun

November 25, 2015

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Museums hit under proposed cuts to state budget

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY -- Budget cuts could result in some of Nevada’s top tourist attractions being closed and the state Parks Division could revert to selling bottled water and snacks to deal with the cuts.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has ordered state agencies to slice 10 percent from their proposed upcoming budgets for the next biennium. Four state museums, including the Lost City Museum in Clark County, could be shut down, and the Parks Division could start charging an entrance fee.

Gibbons is working on the proposed budget, his office said Monday. There is a reported $3 billion shortfall in the budget and Gibbons has pledged not to raise taxes.

He said a balanced budget would require using dramatically reduced tax collections, which in turn would lower state spending on all but essential services to citizens.

But it will be up to the incoming governor to make the final decisions on what cuts will be made in the budget presented to the Legislature in February.

To meet the proposed 10 percent reduction, the state museum division is suggesting eight staffers at the Lost City Museum in Overton be laid off. The museum would be closed in August next year.

The state Department of Cultural Affairs says a closure would be a “perilous action.” It’s in a remote area, which would put it at high risk for thefts, the department said.

The Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas and the state museum in Carson City would stay open. But facing closure would be the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, the railroad museum in Ely and the Nevada Historical Society in Reno.

The historical society is the oldest Nevada museum and has been open since 1905. It has a large collection of historical artifacts, archives and photographs.

The Parks Division is taking a different approach to the budget crisis. It is suggesting a $2 user fee at many of its parks, including the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort in Southern Nevada.

The Parks Division also says the opportunity exists at several parks for installing vending machines to dispense bottled water and other beverages, snacks and ice. This could produce an estimated $17,150 a year.

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