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House Passes Bill Authorizing Fish & Boat Commission To Set Own Fees, Now Goes To Sen
House Passes Bill Authorizing Fish & Boat Commission To Set Own Fees, Now Goes To Senate
Posted: 17 Apr 2019 10:52 AM PDT
On April 17, the House voted 151 to 39 to pass House Bill 808 (Mehaffie-R-Dauphin) authorizing the Fish and Boat Commission to set its own fees for 3 years.
The bill now goes to the Senate which passed similar legislation on fees last session.
“The General Assembly would retain the right to reject any fee change. However, it is important for the Fish and Boat Commission to have the flexibility to establish fees as it sees fit, while continuing to offer robust services to anglers and boaters,” said Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin), prime sponsor of the bill. “Checks and balances like this allow us to ensure the commission is upholding its financial responsibilities while serving the public."
Tim Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission told the House Game and Fisheries Committee on February 27 securing the long-term financial future of the agency was his most pressing priority.
“While our revenue has remained stagnant, costs continue to rise. Fish Fund expenditures have increased by 27 percent or $8.2 million since 2005, while Boat Fund expenditures have risen by 30 percent, or $3.3 million,” Schaeffer said. “Inflation, increased personnel costs, and aging infrastructure have all placed considerable pressure on the Commission’s long-term financial picture in the absence of new or increased revenue.
“The Commission has taken aggressive steps to cut costs and secure new revenue where possible. Since 2005, we have sold non-performing assets like real property, vehicles, and other equipment; marketed oil, gas, water access, and timber resources; and secured revenues through the Act 13 Impact Fee,” Schaeffer explained. “We are also receiving the full amount of taxes paid on motorboat fuel thanks to the Act 89 Transportation Bill.
“On the expenditure side, we have reduced full-time and seasonal staff positions. The Commission has also deferred investments in $18 million of prioritized equipment, vehicles, and maintenance needs for its hatcheries, public facilities, and other operations.”
Last October the 4 Chairs of the Senate and House Game and Fisheries Committees promised to seek additional funding for the Commission in 2019.