Finance Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., May 30, 2001

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item
No.
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Financial Review Update
Staff: Suzy Whittenton
Committee Only
3.

License Point of Sale Update
Staff: Suzy Whittenton

Committee Only
4. Legislative Update
Staff: Joey Park

Committee Only

5. Stamp Fee for Disabled Veterans
Staff: Frances Stiles
6
6. Fleet Policy
Staff: Robert Cook
7
7. Local Park Funding
Staff: Tim Hogsett
9
8. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Finance Committee
April 4, 2001

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 4th day of April 2001, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas beginning at 2:12 p.m., to-wit:

I. FINANCE COMMITTEE:

Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Dick Heath (absent)
Lee M. Bass
Carol E. Dinkins
Nolan Ryan (absent)
John Avila, Jr.
Alvin L. Henry
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. OPENING STATEMENT: Commissioner Ernest Angelo, Jr. called the meeting to order.

III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Commissioner Ernest Angelo, Jr. asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the January 24, 2001 meeting. The motion was moved by Commissioner Carol E. Dinkins and seconded by Commissioner Mark E. Watson, Jr. The motion passed unanimously.

IV. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED TO THE COMMITTEE:

1. BRIEFING - Chairman’s Charges

Presenter: Mr. Andrew Sansom

The Senate and House committees have passed Senate Bill 1, which is the Appropriations Bill. Everything TPWD asked for was in Senate Bill 1 or Article 11, which presents the conferees with the opportunity to put in the requests that we made. The Entrepreneurial rider that allows us to gain benefit of any revenues that we can generate is in the base bill, therefore it will be in the appropriations act. The House Financial Institutions Committee voted out a bond issue that will include approximately $97 1/2 million for Parks and Wildlife. That includes $15 million to complete the remaining backlog out of our original $75 million estimate and an additional $8 to $10 million in repair money which will be available to us on an annual basis for the next seven years. If passed it will require a Constitutional amendment and also be subject to appropriation each session. Also included in that is approximately $30 million for San Jacinto, the Nimitz Museum, Battleship of Texas, and Sheldon Lake State Park. The current appropriations focus is now on the additional $5 million for state park operations that is currently in Article 11 on both sides.

The Bluebonnet license plate was launched in March and production will begin in April. Advertisements are in the Parks and Wildlife and Texas Monthly magazines. Our first license plate, the Texas Horned Lizard, is currently the third most popular specialty plate in Texas with sales over 13,000. We have sold approximately 9,000 and have gross revenue of about $180,000. The renewal of license plates with the Texas Horned Lizard is approaching and in order to change your license plate preference you have to go to the courthouse.

2. BRIEFING – Financial Overview

Presenter: Ms. Suzy Whittenton

Account 9 Game, Fish and Water Safety. As of March 21 total hunting license sales are up nearly 4% compared to September through March of prior year. Resident hunting and special resident hunting sales are down slightly, while nonresident is up slightly. A total of 1,036,000 hunting licenses have been sold to date. Fishing licenses are down 3.2% compared to the same period as last year. Saltwater stamps are also down by nearly 15%, however more people probably bought the combo licenses. Even though regular combo sales are down, total combo sales are up 10%. We have currently sold 1,140,000 fishing licenses this year. We have currently sold nearly 2.5 million licenses, stamps and permits this year. Revenue from license sales is up nearly 2% or about $1 million for the same period last year. Even though we have sold fewer licenses this year, revenue is higher primarily due to the increase in the saltwater stamp fee. We estimated we would collect $62 million in revenue from license sales. We have currently collected 88% of the projected license sales this year. Boat registration and titling fees were projected at $13.5 million for the current year, which will be up slightly over the last two years. For the period of September through February revenue is already up $470,000 over the same period last year. As of the end of February we have collected 29% of the budgeted revenue, or about $4 million. License revenue is up $1.3 million over prior year. It is projected that we will have approximately $3.7 million of unobligated cash in Account 9 at the end of the fiscal year.

Account 64, State Parks, comparing revenue for the period of September through March 21, revenue is down approximately 8.6% or $950,000, compared to prior year. The weather this year has been very unstable. At this time last year park revenue was up about 18%, which was a very good year. Historically we collect the majority of park revenue in the period between March and August, which are in the third and fourth quarters – about 64% of our revenue is collected during this period. We estimate that we will have approximately $2.8 million of undedicated money at the end of the fiscal year.

As far as the current legislative session, some of our outstanding items include facility repair funds in the amount of $8 million per year which is covered in House Bill 3064, general obligation bonds, by Rob. Junnell. The request is also in Article 11 on both sides. We also asked for $5 million in park fees, which is still a possibility. As far as the license buy-back request, we asked for the authority to spend the saltwater stamp fee increase on buying back licenses. However, if we have the entrepreneurial rider then we don’t really even need this one, but the Senate did include it in the base bill anyway. LBB cut a few items that we asked be reinstated, and in each case either the House or the Senate put it in Article 11 so they are still up for discussion. One of the riders that was added that might become reality is the World Birding Center rider. As it is currently written, it would require us to fund the operations in the amount of $1.5 million per year out of our current operations. The lease of state-owned oyster beds rider would require us to incrementally increase rates charged for oyster bed leases to an amount necessary to recoup department costs. Another rider that could have a significant fiscal impact is the commercial fisheries license fee rider. It is currently in the base bill in both the House and Senate and would require us to increase fees for commercial fishing licenses. As far as the radio systems rider it is in the base bill in the House, but it’s not in the Senate bill. It would require the department to make progress on the radio system interoperability with the DPS radio systems. There is also a regional park projects rider that is in the base in the House bill that would require that $2.5 million of the local park funds would go towards regional park projects that have city and county participation.

We are currently beginning the FY 2002 operating budget. Without having an appropriations bill yet, it’s a little difficult, however we are going to try to tie it back to what the appropriations bill will say. We will begin planning and preparation this month and next and have submissions from the divisions by early June, with executive presentations in late June. A Commission work session can be arranged, if needed, to go over the proposed budgets prior to the final recommended budget being prepared by late July so that we are ready to present the FY 2002 budget to the Commission at the August meeting.

3. ACTION – Regional Park Funding

Presenter: Mr. Tim Hogsett

Mr. Hogsett reviewed the proposed grant funding for a regional park grant match project. We received 12 applications by the January 31 deadline requesting $11.9 million. The recommendation was to fully fund the top 3 projects for approximately $3.2 million. The projects would include the San Antonio Medina River Park, Arlington Trinity River Regional Park and the League City Clear Creek Nature Center. The resources for that would be $1 million from the Texas Recreation and Parks account, the sporting goods tax revenue and an additional $2 million from the fiscal year 2001 Land and Water Conservation Fund Federal appropriation that we’re receiving.

4. ACTION – Local Park Funding

Presenter: Mr. Tim Hogsett

Mr. Hogsett reviewed the proposed grant funding for a local park grant match project in the City of Edinburg. In the last appropriations act for 2000-2001 a rider was placed on TPW that required the Department to fund the development of two satellite sites for the World Birding Center. These satellites were to work in conjunction with the main site in Mission. The sites were acquired at $500,000 each. Funding was approved for the first satellite office (City of Harlingen) in January.
5. BRIEFING – Automated License System Update

Presenter: Ms. Suzy Whittenton

Ms. Whittenton and Ms. Bridget Wolf, project leader, explained the status of the new license point of sale system. They displayed the new equipment and explained the differences between the new and old systems. The new system will have a bar code reader to make the process of applying for a new license or additional tags less cumbersome. Because the system is built around Internet standards, it will also be less vulnerable to bottlenecks caused by the lack of telephone circuits during peak periods. If an individual is HIP certified, it will be indicated on the license. We will also be attempting to match our hunter education file to the person buying the license so that their certification number is also printed on the license. The license sale call center will be handled in-house through the park reservation call center. License sales will also be available via the Internet and then the actual license will be mailed to the individual. The pilot program, which will involve both commercial vendors and agents with varying sales volumes, will start around April 16 for the PC users and about April 23 for the hypercom terminal users. Due to being a little behind schedule, testing will be compressed into one month and will be completed by mid-May. Training will be available at various locations and also in the form of on-line help, training video, reference manual and quick reference cards that can be kept at each terminal. The project will be rolled out to the current agents in mid-May with about a 45-60 day rollout period.

V. ADJOURNMENT: Commissioner Ernest Angelo, Jr. adjourned the Finance committee.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Finance Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
May 2001

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Suzy Whittenton

Finance Committee
Briefing
Financial Review Update
May 2001

I. Discussion: Staff will present a financial review for the year to date FY2001, including an update on Account 9, Game, Fish and Water Safety and Account 64, State Parks. This presentation will focus on the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, boat registration and titling fees, and state park fees. Updated budget and expenditure information will also be presented.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Suzy Whittenton

Finance Committee
Briefing
License Point of Sale Update
May 2001

I. Discussion: Staff will give an update on the new automated licensing system being developed under contract by WorldCom.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Joey Park

Finance Committee
Briefing
Legislative Update
May 2001

I. Discussion: Staff will provide an update on Legislative issues that impact the Department. Briefing will provide a status report on Sunset and Appropriations.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Frances Stiles

Finance Committee
Action
Stamp Fee for Disabled Veterans
May 2001

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 6.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Robert Cook

Finance Committee
Action
Fleet Policy
May 2001

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 7.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Finance Committee
Action
Local Park Funding
May 2001

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 9.)


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