Finance Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, Jan. 23, 2008

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  1. Land and Water Plan Update
    Staff: Robert Cook
  2. Implementation of Recommendations by the State Auditor's Office Audit of State Parks Financial Processes - Status Update
    Staff: Scott Boruff
  3. Financial Overview
    Staff: Mary Fields
  4. Electronic License Sales
    Staff: Gene McCarty
  5. License Fee Increases and Conservation Funding
    Staff: Scott Boruff, Larry McKinney
  6. Combined with Committee Agenda Item No. 5
    Enhancing Conservation Funding
    Staff: Scott Boruff, Larry McKinney
  7. Advisory Committee Rules - Permission to Publish
    Staff: Ann Bright
  8. Internet Sales of Big Time Texas Hunts - Permission to Publish
    Staff: Darcy Bontempo
  9. Local Park Grant Rule Amendments - Mandated by Legislation (H. B. 12)(Action Item No. 5)
    Staff: Tim Hogsett

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Robert L. Cook

Finance Committee
Land and Water Plan Update
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: Executive Director Robert L. Cook will briefly update the Commission on the status of the agency's efforts to implement the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (the Plan).

II. Discussion: In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature directed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop a Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (Tex. Park & Wild. Code §11.104). In November 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. The Plan is available on the TPWD web site. Executive Director Robert L. Cook will update the Finance Committee on TPWD's recent progress in achieving the Plan's Goals and Objectives as they relate to the Finance Committee.

The Plan consists of 8 Goals and a total of 56 Objectives. The Goals stated in the Plan are as follows:


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Scott Boruff

Finance Committee
Implementation of Recommendations by the State Auditor's Office
Audit of State Parks Financial Processes
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: In March 2007, the State Auditor's Office (SAO) issued a report titled Financial Processes at the Parks and Wildlife Department (the audit). TPWD takes the SAO's audit recommendations seriously and is committed to fully addressing the issues raised by the SAO as set out in TPWD's responses contained within the audit report. TPWD staff will brief the Commission on the audit recommendations and the status of TPWD's implementation of those recommendations.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Mary Fields

Finance Committee
Implementation of Recommendations by the State Auditor's Office
Audit of State Parks Financial Processes
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff will present a financial overview of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

II. Discussion:

  1. Staff will provide a financial overview of FY 2007 year-end close.
  2. Staff will update the Commission on revenue collected by TPWD for the first quarter of FY 2008, including state parks receipts, boat titling and registration revenue, and license sales revenue including the number of licenses sold.
  3. Staff will review the revenue collected by fund (Game Fish and Water Safety Fund, State Park Fund, Local Park Fund, and Other).
  4. Staff will compare the FY 2008 budget to FY 2008 expenditures for the first quarter and summarize budget adjustments.

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Gene McCarty

Finance Committee
Electronic License Sales
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff will present an overview of the current TPWD license sales and an introduction to new and existing technology that could be utilized to improve existing processes.

II. Discussion:


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Scott Boruff
Larry McKinney

Finance Committee
License Fee Increases and Conservation Funding
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff is developing a comprehensive strategy for Commission consideration to increase funding for conservation activities. Staff has analyzed the need for increased funding for Fund 9 divisions necessary to maintain current levels of service and to address demands for additional programs and activities. An increase in license fees would be one means of doing so. Fee increase strategies are but one part of a comprehensive strategy to assure adequate funding for conservation. Changing demographics will greatly impact future funding options. Other states have adopted strategies to generate conservation funding in addition to or in place of license revenue. Staff will brief the Commission on these and other strategies that would better assure that all those who benefit from TPWD conservation activities have the opportunity to help fund them.

II. Discussion: The "Fund 9 Divisions" - Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement and Wildlife depend upon the sale of licenses (65 percent) and the annual apportionment of federal excise taxes on the sale of sporting goods (35 percent) to fund conservation programs. No general revenue (state sales taxes) is allocated to these programs. As an example of user pay-user benefit, Texas programs are exemplary. According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, Texas ranks first in the number of hunting participants (1,115,000) and second in fishing (2,500,000). Hunting and fishing in Texas is a multi-billion dollar business annually providing economic benefits across all regions of the state. Constituents have actively supported conservation initiatives, not only through license purchases but as partners and advocates. The agency has consistently enjoyed high approval ratings with constituents because of this relationship and the effectiveness of the programs funded by them.

It will not be possible to maintain this level of excellence into the future without considering strategies to increase funding. A review of projected revenue verses appropriation authority would indicate that all undedicated Fund 9 balances would be expended by 2011. Operational costs have continued to rise and inflation has effectively reduced funding by around $850,000 each year since the last fee increase. The salaries of our biologists, technicians and administrative support staff are increasingly less competitive within state agencies and especially in comparison to other fish and wildlife agencies around the country. Infrastructure and facility maintenance needs have been deferred or minimized in order to maintain acceptable levels of service. There is a consistent and growing demand for expanding programs, services and law enforcement that has stressed existing capacity to the limit of budget resources. A number of strategies are being developed to address the anticipated shortfall and provide additional funds for expanding programs. Without enhanced revenues, all Fund 9 divisions will be forced to make significant reductions in budgets by the 2011 fiscal year.

A fee increase is certainly one strategy to consider but not the only one. Texas' changing demographics (an increasing but aging population) will create challenges in assuring that existing fee structures are adequate and appropriate. We must look to new funding sources to meet growing and changing conservation needs and to assure the greatest possible access to fish and wildlife resources. Regardless of the means, it would be an important goal to develop and implement funding strategies that better assure all those who benefit from the conservation activities of Texas Parks and Wildlife have the opportunity to contribute to funding them.


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Ann Bright

Finance Committee
Advisory Committee Rule Amendments
Permission to Publish
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: Chapter 2110 of the Texas Government Code requires that rules be adopted regarding each agency advisory committee. Effective September 28, 2005, the Commission adopted rules governing agency advisory committees. Staff is recommending that the Commission authorize the publication of revisions to those rules regarding the two game bird advisory committees and the repeal of the advisory committee rules regarding the Operation Game Thief Committee.

II. Discussion: The Texas Government Code requires that a state agency adopt rules regarding each agency advisory committee. Unless otherwise provided by specific statute, the rules must (1) state the purpose of the committee; (2) describe the manner in which the committee will report to the agency; and (3) establish the date on which the committee will automatically be abolished, unless the advisory committee has a specific duration established by statute. Other requirements for advisory committees include an annual evaluation, a membership limit of 24 members, balanced membership representation, the selection of a presiding officer by members, and a four-year duration unless otherwise provided by rule.

Current rules provide for the Game Bird Advisory Board (§51.607) and the Texas Quail Council (§51.608). TPWD Staff is recommending that these two committees be eliminated and replaced with a Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee and an Upland Game Bird Council. The proposed Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee and the Upland Game Bird Council will be subject to the same restrictions as other TPWD advisory committees (§51.601).

Current rules also address the Operation Game Thief (OGT) Committee (§51.651). After further review of the OGT statute (Parks & Wild. Code §12.202), it appears that the OGT Committee does not meet the definition of an advisory committee in Chapter 2110 of the Government Code. Also, more specific rules regarding OGT and the OGT Committee are located at Chapter 55, Subchapter D of the TPWD's rules. Therefore, staff proposes repeal of the advisory committee rule (§51.651) regarding the OGT.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends that a proposal be published in the Texas Register for public comment regarding the repeal of rules regarding the Operation Game Thief Committee (§51.651), the Game Bird Advisory Board (§51.607) and the Texas Quail Council (§51.608) and the adoption of new rules regarding the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee and the Upland Game Bird Council.


Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Presenter: Darcy Bontempo

Finance Committee
Internet Sales of Big Time Texas Hunts
Permission to Publish
January 2008

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks permission to publish proposed rule amendments in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed rules would authorize the sale of entries for the Big Time Texas Hunts at $9, if purchased over the Internet, and authorize the collection of a convenience fee of $5 per Internet transaction.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.0271, the Commission may establish fees for participation in pubic drawings to select applicants for pubic hunting privileges. Since 1999, the Big Time Texas Hunts (BTTH) program has been TPWD's most successful entrepreneurial fundraising project. For a $10 fee, anyone can enter to win one of seven prize hunt packages, and TPWD sets no limits on the number of entries. Participants purchase an average of four entries for BTTH. In 2006, TPWD sold more than 78,000 entries and generated significant net revenue. Sponsorship fees also result in additional revenue for the program. In addition to funding the purchase of the hunts, this income has funded wildlife research, habitat management, and public hunting.

The proposed amendments would allow the purchase of BTTH entries at a reduced price of $9 per entry, provided the purchase is made via the department's Internet site. Staff believes that the offer of a reduced price for entries purchased via the Internet will result in an increase in the number of participants and thus sales and revenue since this is the easiest method of purchase and will allow TPWD to promote our partner and other websites at little to no additional cost. Given the rising cost of postage with direct mail, this promotion offers an opportunity to reduce marketing costs in the future.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends that a proposal be published in the Texas Register for public comment that would amend 31 TAC §53.10 by adding a fee of $9 for Big Time Texas Hunts entries purchased via the department's Internet site and by authorizing the collection of a convenience of $5 per Internet transaction.


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