LePage plan to outsource state park jobs questioned

Source: Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald, March 10, 2017
LePage administration proposals to outsource two dozen state park jobs and eliminate conservation-related positions received a chilly reception from some lawmakers and advocacy groups Friday.  The administration wants to hire contractors to fill 15 seasonal assistant park ranger jobs and nine laborer jobs  out of roughly 200 seasonal, primarily summertime jobs at state parks. Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said the shift makes sense because contractors can do many of the maintenance and other basic jobs more efficiently, especially considering the poor shape of some state equipment such as lawn mowers. But Rep. Thomas Skolfield, R-Weld, said wanting to outsource seasonal workers because of lousy equipment “is sort of like saying a state trooper’s cruiser is dying, so we ought to eliminate the trooper” position. …


Critics question LePage plan to outsource park jobs, cut management positions
Source: Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald, February 27, 2017
Conservation advocates are raising concerns about Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to outsource two dozen jobs at Maine’s state parks and to eliminate management positions involved in overseeing historic sites or public lands.  But LePage administration officials say the changes – including the shift to seasonal contract laborers – are aimed at improving efficiency and refocusing resources at a time when the state parks are adding programs and setting visitation records. … Lawmakers are expecting a spirited discussion next month when they begin diving into LePage’s budget proposals related to Whitcomb’s department. … One of the major changes proposed by LePage in his two-year, $6.8 billion budget is to hire contractors to fill 24 seasonal positions within the parks bureau: 14 full-time assistant park rangers, one part-time assistant park ranger and nine full-time laborers. The potential shift to contractors is not expected to save the department money – the $410,000 in payroll for the state employees is transferred to a contractor fund. Instead, Whitcomb said he believes jobs such as lawn maintenance can be done faster and more efficiently by contractors, especially considering the “antiquated” equipment owned by the state. …