Arizona state parks under evaluation for request to have staff work for free

Sue Black, director of Arizona State Parks & Trails, is pictured at a public auction in Prescott June 30, 2015, when she won the bid for a 320-acre site where 19 firefighters -- the Granite Mountain Hotshots -- died. Public records show that under Black’s leadership at State Parks & Trails, 103 full-time employees have left, and the department has recently asked its office employees to volunteer their time to clean toilets, patrol creeks, collect fees and work in park stores. (Felicia Fonseca/AP, file)

Sue Black, director of Arizona State Parks & Trails, is pictured at a public auction in Prescott June 30, 2015, when she won the bid for a 320-acre site where 19 firefighters -- the Granite Mountain Hotshots -- died. Public records show that under Black’s leadership at State Parks & Trails, 103 full-time employees have left, and the department has recently asked its office employees to volunteer their time to clean toilets, patrol creeks, collect fees and work in park stores. (Felicia Fonseca/AP, file)

PHOENIX (AP) — The agency that oversees Arizona's state parks has suspended a request for its central office staff to work additional shifts at the agency's 35 parks for no additional pay.

The Arizona Republic reports that Arizona State Parks & Trails suspended the request Friday after the newspaper asked the state Department of Administration and Gov. Doug Ducey's office whether state employees could legally work additional shifts for free.

"Because this is under evaluation, Parks is temporarily suspending these opportunities until the evaluation is complete," said Megan Rose, a spokeswoman for the Department of Administration.

The employees were offered compensatory time, not overtime pay, according to Michelle Thompson, spokeswoman for Arizona State Parks & Trails.

Arizona State Parks & Trails has struggled with high turnover.

The roughly 70 employees at the agency's headquarters — who manage administration, accounting, engineering, computer support and procurement — were being asked to help clean toilets, patrol creeks, collect fees and work in park stores.

Thompson told The Republic only employees who volunteered would work in the field. She declined to say why the agency, which has boasted of record revenue, hasn't hired more employees.

Public records obtained by The Republic show 103 full-time employees have left the agency under Parks Director Sue Black. The agency has 163 full-time positions, according to the state budget office. It also has dozens of seasonal employees.

Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey's spokesman, said the governor has not imposed a hiring freeze at Arizona State Parks & Trails.

Black, twice investigated by the state for mistreating state employees, has one of the worst turnover rates as an agency director in Arizona state government.

Ducey has stood behind Black, lauding her for bringing in new revenue.

The governor rewarded her with a 9 percent raise in November 2016, bringing her annual pay to $175,000. Black's predecessor was paid $136,000 annually.

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