State ride inspections could cost California parks big

Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2004 8:27 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Theme park operators hardly protested Tuesday when California regulators proposed penalties ranging from $1,000 to $70,000 for violating safety laws. But they did object to the "high cost" of complying with California's safety regulations. Knott's Berry Farm and its affiliated water parks paid $150,000 in inspection costs, and smaller parks struggle to find the money for the inspections.

Read more from The Orange County Register.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004 11:23 AM
Would they prefer that the inspections be financed by the penalties? That might result in more "penalties" for them. The inspections should in theory protect the parks. How else would the parks have these inspections financed?
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 12:01 PM
They should give them like 30 or 90 days to apply to these new rules. That way maybe they could raise prices slightly to pay for the inspections(for the smaller parks).
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 12:48 PM
How should they be financed? By that state, or with a different rate structure. As mentioned, Ohio is a flat per-ride fee. While it borders on being a weak argument, I'll agree that this would certainly hurt the little guy struggling to get by, especially fair operators.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 4:11 PM
The state? I can buy that. But to be fair, I'd also like the state to pay for my smog check too. Problem is these days is that the states are in such a pinch, and voters are supposedly against raising taxes, most politicians wouldn't touch using state funding for a new program with a 10 foot support.

Okay, the smog check comparrison probably isn't fair because they are so cheap compared to the operating cost of a car. Bad argument.*** This post was edited by janfrederick 5/19/2004 4:12:42 PM ***

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 5:29 PM
They're pointless tests with modern cars too, but that's something else.

I also suppose that Cal-ee-fone-yah has plenty of fiscal problems already.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 5:40 PM
Actually, $150,000 per year doesn't seem like that much to me for inspections on a major amusement park plus 3 water parks. Not trivial, but not a budget buster. In California, that's probably about the cost of one and a half average year round employees.

I'd be more interested to see numbers on what the impact is relative to budget on small parks. I suspect that they may be hurt far more than large parks. Also carnies if they have to be inspected at each setup.

$70,000 fine for a willful violation resulting in a fatality seems almost low. You can guarantee that it would be a tiny fraction of the lawsuit resulting from such a death.

Charging by the hour provides and incentive for the park to have the ride ready for inspection and everything right before the inspector arrives. It should reduce the tendency that I've heard some parks have of using the state inspectors as their primary inspectors rather than getting things right before the inspector arrives.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 9:33 PM
I want to move to this magical place where an average worker's salary is $100K annually :)
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 11:20 PM
Maddie, I think (hope) that he's including benefits, etc. An average worker in CA makes what, 60, maybe 70k? I'd imagine so with the cost of living out there. It's not out of the question that they'd be almost 100k including family health care and that Thanksgiving turkey they all get.

Still, I wish my park paid like that!

Thursday, May 20, 2004 7:11 AM
I work at Rotary Playland, a small kiddieland in Fresno California with 8 rides including a C.P. Hunington Train and a 1955 Arrow Development Merry Go Round. It was reported the insurance for it and another walk through park called Storyland was $70.000 and later reduced to $54.000. The City of Fresno found a way to pay the cost of the insurance, for without it the parks could not operate. I don't know how much state inspections cost for the parks, but the local media was all over it wondering will the parks open next year?
Thursday, May 20, 2004 11:43 AM
If you elect to have the state inspectors do the first inspection, it costs you $125/hr per inspector. If you use a state certified QSI (qualified safety inspector) it will vary according to what that firm or person charges. We used a QSI for our inspection, and for one ride it cost about $550-600. Now the state will make two announced inspections plus one surprise inspection during the course of the year besides. With a large ride operation you can see that the fees will really add up.This is because as set up by the Legislature these fees are to cover the operating costs of the Permanent Ride Division of DOSH.There are four inspectors assigned to the Anaheim office, and four to the Sacramento office, plus office staffs and a staff engineer. The Anaheim office really needs four more inspectors, as fully two thirds of the rides in the state are in their jurisdiction.

The big parks can amortize these expenses. For the little guy it's a different story.*** This post was edited by Dutchman 5/20/2004 11:44:32 AM ***

Thursday, May 20, 2004 1:38 PM
Chernabog said:

I want to move to this magical place where an average worker's salary is $100K annually.

I said the cost of having a year around employee, not the salary. The total cost of an employee can easily be twice his salary when all the insurances, taxes, and overheads are included. We are also talking about California here, which is not exactly the cheapest place in the country.

Thursday, May 20, 2004 2:44 PM
Let me tell you from personal experience that the average employee here doesn't make anywhere near $100K a year especially in this business. Closer to a third to half of that.
Thursday, May 20, 2004 4:30 PM
Again, an employee who makes around $50,000 dollars per year costs his employer between $75,000 and $100,000 per year to have. Remember total employee cost includes many if not all of the following:

Social Security Tax
Medicare Tax
Workmen's Compenstation
Savings Matching
Liability Insurance
Office space & associated utilities
Payroll cost
Tools and equipment
Life insurance
Medical insurance

It all adds up.

Thursday, May 20, 2004 8:04 PM
Well actually, the employee doesn't take home that amount. Some of that is taken from their paycheck.
Friday, May 21, 2004 2:35 AM
Thanks Dutchman on the figures. I believe the $125 to $150 an hour is right for our little park. I met the California state inspector not long ago, and it took him less than 3 hours for our 8 rides. He found slight faults with the C.P. Hunington Train which were corrected next day. I'll get more info.

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