Operational Changes for State Attractions Could Yield $2 Million Annually and Reduce Reliance on the State (February 2012)

The General Assembly directed the review of state historic sites, museums, state parks, aquariums, and the North Carolina Zoo management to determine whether administration could be consolidated and to suggest optimal operating schedules for sites. Cost savings and efficiency of site operations could be increased by restructuring site-level management, closing sites partially or entirely, expanding fees, and adopting public–private partnerships with non-profit entities. Analyses indicated consolidating attractions under one of the existing agencies would not enhance effective management nor result in cost savings. The General Assembly should direct coordinated site management at historic sites and parks, adopting a five-day schedule for most historic sites, closing two sites, recording daily visitation data at all parks to determine potential savings from daily or seasonal closure, adopting public–private partnerships with non-profits for the operations of the zoo and aquariums, and expanding public–private partnerships with non-profits and fees to reduce reliance on state funds.
Final Report




Relevant Legislation:

  • S.L. 2012-93: Required the Department of Cultural Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to study various revenue enhancements and potential savings at state historic sites and museums, the State Zoo, state parks, and state aquariums.

Agency Actions:

  • The Department of Cultural Resources implemented a mandatory public operating schedule of 9:00 am-5:00 pm from Tuesday-Saturday for all its sites, thus closing sites on Mondays and Sundays; reduced the operation schedule at the Richard Caswell Memorial to two days per week (the resultant savings have been applied to the expanded CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center); charged all sites with implementing a minimum of one revenue generating program per year (as a result, the percentage and amount of non-appropriated support for most sites has increased); and required each institution to conduct one survey per year to solicit feedback from visitors in order to identify ways to improve. In addition, efforts are underway to evaluate costs of individual programming to understand the return on the investment.
  • The Department of Environment and Natural Resources raised the fees at aquariums from $8 to $10.95 (effective December 1, 2014).

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