Finance Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., April 2, 2003

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. Legislative Update
Staff: Bob Cook
Committee Only
3.

Financial Review and Update
Staff: Drew Thigpen

Committee Only
4. Business Improvement Plan (BIP)
Staff: Drew Thigpen
Committee Only
5. Boat Ramp Funding
Staff: Tim Hogsett
2
6. Fee Changes
Staff: Gene McCarty
Committee Only
7. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Finance Committee
January 22, 2003

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 22nd day of January 2003, 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 10:40 a.m. to-wit:

I. FINANCE COMMITTEE

Ernest Angelo, Jr., Chair
Philip Montgomery, III
Katharine Armstrong
John Avila, Jr.
Joseph B. C. Fitzsimons
Alvin L. Henry
Donato D. Ramos
Kelly M. Rising, M.D.
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. OPENING STATEMENT: Chairman Katharine Armstrong called the meeting to order.

III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Commissioner Ernest Angelo, Jr. asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the November 6, 2002 meeting. The motion was moved by Commissioner Fitzsimons and seconded by Commissioner Henry. The motion passed unanimously.

IV. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED TO THE COMMITTEE

1. Chairman’s Charges
Presenter: Mr. Robert L. Cook

Mr. Cook updated the Commission on the status of the Chairman’s Charges for the Finance Committee. In regards to the legislative process, we submitted our Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) in August. Currently, we are tracking 84 bills that could impact TPWD. Of those there are 4 that we are tracking very closely. Those bills include a transfer of the Odessa Meteor Crater to TPWD, protection of public freshwater areas that closes state-owned riverbeds to vehicular traffic, a request to exempt individuals 70 years of age and older from the requirement of having a hunting or fishing license, and a bill that exempts landowners from having to obtain a hunting license to hunt feral hogs on their own property.

2. Financial Review and Update
Presenter: Ms. Suzy Whittenton

Ms. Whittenton gave a financial review for FY03 and an update on the Legislative Appropriations Request and the Business Improvement Plan.

As of the end of November 2002, state park revenue is down nearly 12% or $659,000 as compared to prior year. The decline is partially due to Thanksgiving weekend falling into the December reporting period as a result of the revenue report cut-off date. Other factors for the decline are due to the stormy weather and some of the parks that have done well in the past years just haven’t been doing well this year. However, from what we are seeing it looks like December will be a good month. It is early in the season for park revenue, as we collect most of it in the last two quarters of the fiscal year.

In account 9, boat revenue, we were down as of the end of December 2002 by approximately $500,000. As far as license sales (including stamps and permits), they are down slightly to-date. Hunting license sales are up as of December 31, 2003. Total hunting licenses sold, including combos, were up over 1% when compared to the same period last year. Non-resident hunting licenses are up 6.5%, which ends up having a significant fiscal impact because of the price of those licenses. Fishing license sales are down about 2%. However, we saw a similar trend last year. Non-resident fishing licenses sales are up slightly, while resident sales are down approximately 5%. Saltwater stamp sales are also down by 4.4%. As of December, revenue is up less than 1%, or approximately $183,000 higher. We have collected about 64% of all revenue expected this year.

The following is a review of our primary funds. In Fund 9, our Game, Fish and Water Safety account, we have already collected almost half of what we’ll collect all year because license sales are the primary revenue source. In the state park funds we have collected 30% and are about one-third of the way through the fiscal year. However, the biggest quarters are usually the 3rd and 4th. The artificial reef fund estimate was based on prior year donations that are received for artificial reefs and interest income. Currently we have collected 170% of our projected revenue.

We are one-third through the fiscal year and we have spent 31.5% of our budget.

We are expecting the Governor’s Office to direct us this week to save some funds this year to help with the $2 billion shortfall the State is anticipating for this fiscal year.

We are working diligently on the Business Improvement Plan. Out of the 94 items that were identified, 46 of those items are finished, which is approximately 50%. There are an additional 14 items scheduled to be finished by the end of next month. The plan actually goes out until November 2004 before everything is completed.

Our Legislative Appropriations Request was submitted in September and we have been spending a lot of time with the staff of the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) and the Governor’s Office. The Governor’s Office has recommended a zero-based budget process. At this time we don’t know if they are going to use a zero-based strategy or use the LBB recommendation that came out a couple of weeks ago. They have not addressed any rider requests and they have excluded the Proposition 8 funding. Our entrepreneurial rider was also eliminated. It is believed that the Proposition 8 funds won’t be released due to the debt service. If we do not receive our Proposition 8 funds then it could delay projects such as the Battleship by two years.

Regarding land acquisitions, we asked that land acquisitions with federal or grant funds be exempted from the restrictions that their capital budget rider places on those kids of purchases; however, they came back with a rider that would increase the restrictions on land acquisitions. They also cut out the $1.5 million of federal funds and the land and water funds that we had asked for to be used for land acquisitions.

They also added the amounts for the floating cabins that we had asked for in the amount of approximately $200,000. The floating cabin money was revenue we earned from the floating cabin permits which we were required to deposit into the General Revenue Fund. Since we were unable to access it, it lapsed at the end of last year. We requested that the money be given back to the agency and LBB agreed.

Approximately a week ago the Comptroller’s Office released their revenue estimate and was within 1% of the revenue estimate that TPWD submitted to them in September.

At this time we are awaiting legislative leadership to provide some guidance on what the budget approach will be and we will be working closely with their offices, the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees on how to proceed.

3. Wildlife Grant Budget Adjustment
Presenter: Ms. Suzy Whittenton and Mr. John Herron

This is to ensure that the Wildlife Division’s budget for the Conservation Action grants comply with Section 11.043(c) that governs the use of the conservation and capital account where license plate revenue is deposited. Last August when the operating budget was approved the funds were mistakenly classified as operating funds instead of grant funds. The statute states that the license plate proceeds may only be spent for acquisition, development, maintenance, or operation of parks, fisheries, or wildlife projects that have been individually approved by the Commission. To ensure that we are in compliance we felt we should bring this item into an open meeting. There is $700,000 set aside for this grant program. The funds come from a combination of State Wildlife Grant funds, federal funds, and these revenues from license plate proceeds. Those license plate proceeds are the ones that can only be used for certain projects that have been individually approved by the Commission. This program is to benefit rare species and species in need of conservation. They’re grants that require a one-to-one match from the grantee. This action will not change anything in the budget. It just clarifies that the Commission was aware that these funds were set aside from this purpose.

This item was placed on the Thursday commission agenda for public comment and action.

4. Grants
Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Local Park Grants
The Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program (TRPA) was authorized in 1993 to assist local political subdivisions of the state in providing basic public recreation facilities. TRPA revenue is generated from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods. Funds available include $6,550,817 from Fiscal Year 2003 TRPA revenue. This review includes applications from 43 sponsors requesting $18,045,157 in matching funds for all applications submitted by the July 31, 2002 deadline. The projects were ranked and staff will recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the motion to approve funding for the top 14 ranked projects in the amount of $6,550,817.

Indoor Grants
The Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program (TRPA) is a dedication of a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods, effective September 1, 1993. This program provides matching fund assistance to local governments for indoor recreation. TRPA funds available for indoor projects include $3,411,868 from Fiscal Year 2003 revenue. This review includes applications from 25 sponsors requesting $15,832,419 in matching funds for all applications submitted by the July 31, 2002 deadline. Projects were ranked and staff will recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the motion to approve funding for the top 6 ranked projects in the amount of $3,411,868.

Target Range Grants
The National Hunter Education and Target Range Programs were established in 1970 respectively as a part of the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Wildlife Restoration Act. This act provides for these programs, and the Department has historically set aside $150,000 for the target range program. The participants provide twenty-five percent (25%) of the total cost of the project with the grant funds providing the balance or seventy-five percent (75%). The funds are available to qualifying applicants from both private and governmental sectors who provide public use of their facilities. We received two applications, requesting a total of $90,000. Staff will recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the motion to approve funding for both the projects in the amount of $90,000.

This item was placed on the Thursday commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

5. Kerrville-Schreiner State Park Transfer
Presenter: Mr. Walt Dabney

Negotiations are underway between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the City of Kerrville to consider the transfer of Kerrville-Schreiner State Park to the City of Kerrville. House Bill 2108, 76th Legislature, amended the Parks and Wildlife Code to include grants for interim operation and maintenance of parks owned or operated and maintained by the Department and being transferred to a political subdivision for operation and maintenance of the site. Negotiation of the proposed transfer of state park sites will consider grant funding to facilitate the transfer. A total of $2 million is available each year of the FY02-03 biennium. Grants will be awarded based upon a proposal from the political subdivision explaining the need for transfer grant funding and detailing the exact amount requested for operations and maintenance. No final proposal regarding the potential transfers will be brought forward to the Commission without extensive opportunity for local public review and input, and coordination with the Texas Historical Commission.

With Commission approval, Department staff will continue negotiations toward transfer of Kerrville-Schreiner State Park.

The park was acquired in 1934 by deed from the City of Kerrville. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed the original park. A preliminary request has been received from the City of Kerrville for $1,108,763 million to affect the transfer, including upgrades of the travel trailer sites, conversion of the screened shelters to cabins and three years of operating expenses. TPWD has held a public hearing in Kerrville to allow citizen comment on the proposed transfer. No transfer will occur without binding legal assurances that there will be no change in the current recreational character of the park, and no change in the natural resource and historical characteristics of the site. They City of Kerrville also wants to contract with us, which we’ve done with the Lower Colorado River Authority, to use our central reservations office to continue to make reservations for their campground, which we would be prepared to do. No Department staff has lost their jobs because of this. Some of the employees at Kerrville would choose to become city employees and others would be moved to other state park sites. With Commission approval tomorrow, Department staff will execute a grant agreement to begin the process of the transfer. The transfer grant would be in FY03-04 if it were approved.

This item was placed on the Thursday commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Finance Committee
Chairman's Charges
April 2003

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Bob Cook

Finance Committee
Legislative Update
April 2003

I. Discussion: Staff will provide an update on issues relating to the legislative session to include legislation and appropriation.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Drew Thigpen

Finance Committee
Financial Review and Update
April 2003

I. Discussion: Staff will present a financial review for the year to date FY2003, 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. 4
Presenter: Drew Thigpen

Finance Committee
Business Improvement Plan (BIP)
April 2003

I. Discussion: Staff will update the Commission on the status of the Business Improvement Plan.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Finance Committee
Boat Ramp Funding
April 2003

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 2.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Gene McCarty

Finance Committee
Fee Changes
April 2003

I. Discussion: Staff will brief the Commission on the results of the analysis for potential changes in hunting and fishing license fees and boat registration fees.


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