Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Finance Committee Meeting

Nov. 6, 2002

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

           7        BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on  the 6th day of

           8   November, 2002, there came on to be heard matters under the

           9   regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission

          10   of Texas, in  the Commission Executive Board  Room of the

          11   Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, beginning at

          12   11:20 a.m. to wit:

          13   APPEARANCES:
          14   THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

          15   FINANCE COMMITTEE:

          16             Katharine Armstrong, Austin, Texas, Commission 
          17             Chair
          18             Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas
          19             Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas, Committee
          20             Chair
          21             John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas
          22             Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
          23             Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
          24             Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
          25             Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas
          26             Mark W. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas

          27   THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
          28   Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of
          29   the Parks and Wildlife Department

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           1             CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Next is the Finance

           2   Committee.

           3             Chairman Angelo?

           4             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Thank you, ma'am.

           5             We'll convene the Finance Committee meeting and

           6   ask for approval of the Committee minutes from the

           7   previous meeting.  Do we have a motion to that effect or

           8   any corrections?

           9             COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So move.

          10             COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Second.

          11             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  All in favor say aye.

          12             (A chorus of ayes.)

          13             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The minutes are approved. 

          14   ITEM 1:  CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES  

          15             Mr. Cook, do you have the Chairman's charges?

          16             MR. COOK:  I have nothing really new to report

          17   on charges at this time, except I would like to give you

          18   just a little bit of an update.  We continue the

          19   implementation of the recommendations from our Business

          20   Improvement Plan.  We have been telling that story

          21   basically all over Austin, and it is well received.

          22             And I sincerely appreciate so much Suzy and her

          23   staff for working on these items.  Scott has been helping

          24   relentlessly, and we've all been working on it.  So it's


          25   going well, and we are implementing those recommendations

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           1   day by day.

           2             One thing I'd like to call to your attention. 

           3   You may remember, a few weeks ago, in your Commission

           4   brief, last time we met, in August, we made note of the

           5   fact that we had just completed reconciliation of prior

           6   year accounts, all the revenues and expenditures.  We

           7   have now finished all of FY '02, the year that was just

           8   finished August 31, except for our license revenue.  And

           9   we've still got a little work to do on that, but that is

          10   expected to be completed in December.

          11             So we will be caught up and in tune, and we are

          12   staying in contact with that as the months go by every

          13   month.  So we appreciate, again, all of the work done

          14   there.

          15             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Thank you.

          16             COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman?

          17             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Mr. Henry.

          18             COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I would just like for us

          19   to personally as well as a Commission commend Bob and the

          20   staff here for bringing us into the light here.  Given --

          21   particularly given the problems that we have with the

          22   deficit and the legislature, the next time, this has to

          23   help us a great deal, to have us on this kind of sound

          24   financial footing.  So I just want to commend you for

          25   that.

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           1             MR. COOK:  Thank you, sir.  I appreciate that. 

           2   And I know staff does.  I've been doing a little visiting

           3   downtown.  And, you know, I always lead my comments to

           4   the Representatives and Senators with an update on those

           5   programs.  And when I say, "Do you have any questions,"

           6   they say, "You've already answered them.  Thank you."

           7             So it is something that we are continuing to

           8   work with our oversight agencies and the folks downtown

           9   to keep them informed on, and I believe it is going to

          10   help.

          11             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Good.

          12   ITEM 2:  FINANCIAL REVIEW and UPDATE

          13             All right.  We'll move on to Item Number 2,

          14   which will be a financial review and update from Suzy

          15   Whittenton.

          16             Suzy?

          17             MS. WHITTENTON:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

          18             For the record, I'm Suzy Whittenton, Chief

          19   Financial Officer.  In today's presentation, I'll cover

          20   current revenue information, including some preliminary

          21   results on the Big-Time Texas Hunts program, and briefly

          22   update you on the license system, the operating budget

          23   and the Legislative Appropriations Request process and

          24   then briefly wrap up with the Business Improvement Plan

          25   items.

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           1             Starting with park revenue, for the first month

           2   of the fiscal year, September, we were down nearly 6

           3   percent, but that's only $76,000; it's very early in the

           4   year to know whether there's going to be any kind of a

           5   trend here.

           6             We looked at what this meant by park location. 

           7   There are a lot of parks that did quite well in

           8   September.  And there were just a few that brought this

           9   total revenue number down, and the main one was Garner

          10   State Park, where revenue was down $42,000 in September. 

          11   And that is apparently due to the closure of the old

          12   Garner section of that park due to the floods.

          13             Also, Indian Lodge had 12 rooms under

          14   renovation, and so they had a drop in revenue, as did

          15   Palo Duro, where the concessionaire was closed in

          16   September.  So I don't think we're real concerned about

          17   revenue being down for that first month; it looks like a

          18   lot of the parks are doing well.  And, hopefully, we'll

          19   get revenue information for October next week, and we'll

          20   watch it real closely.

          21             In Account 9, boat registration fees and

          22   license sales, first we'll look at boat fees.  As of the

          23   end of October, we were up approximately 5 percent.  I

          24   remember that last year we had a slow start in boat

          25   revenue, which -- we ended up catching up and coming in

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           1   the year quite well, but we never were really able to

           2   explain why those numbers were down last year.  So we

           3   expected it to be up a little bit, and this may not mean

           4   that the trend will continue on boat fees.

           5             In license sales, we've sold over a million-six

           6   hundred thousand licenses, and this includes stamps and

           7   permits.  This is nearly the same amount that we sold

           8   last year at this time.  It's -- about 50 percent of what

           9   we expect to sell all year we've already sold.

          10             If you look at just hunting licenses, we've

          11   sold 770,000 licenses to hunters; we expect to sell about

          12   a million for the year.  So you can see we've sold the

          13   bulk of our hunting licenses.  It's interesting to note

          14   that non-resident sales are up over 6 percent; in fact,

          15   the general non-resident license is up 11 percent.  And

          16   then overall hunting license sales are up 2.2 percent.

          17             Also up -- white-winged dove stamp sales were

          18   up 16 percent.  So there are some interesting new trends

          19   there.

          20             In fishing licenses, we've sold 852,000

          21   licenses to anglers as of last week; we expect to sell

          22   about a million-three.  It's down just slightly over this

          23   same time last year, less than 1 percent, but, again,

          24   it's a little early to say in fishing licenses.

          25             And what this translates into in terms of

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           1   revenue is that revenue is up 1.3 percent, or about half-

           2   a-million dollars.  So it's good news.  We've earned

           3   about 57 percent of all revenue expected for the year, or

           4   nearly $40 million, that we've brought in from license

           5   sales.

           6             In super-combo sales, you can see the trends

           7   here since we started this license in 1997.  The first

           8   four years, sales nearly doubled and seem to have leveled

           9   off somewhat.  We've already sold 320,000 this year, and

          10   we'll probably sell about 350-, but it's still continuing

          11   to increase each year.

          12             When you look at the super-combo and the senior

          13   super-combo together, those sales are up 3.3 percent over

          14   last year.  Super-combo's up 2-1/2 percent, and the

          15   senior super-combo's up 20 percent.  That was a license

          16   we just started in 2001, and it seems to grow a lot each

          17   year.

          18             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  And we want to thank you.

          19             MS. WHITTENTON:  Hopefully, with the aging of

          20   our license holders, we won't --

          21             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I thought you were going

          22   to say, The aging of the Commission.

          23             (Laughter.)

          24             MS. WHITTENTON:  The baby boomers are all going

          25   to start buying senior combos instead of super-combos.

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           1             Big-Time Texas Hunts' application deadline was

           2   last Saturday, which was November 2.  Entries have to be

           3   postmarked by that date to be accepted.  So these are

           4   real early results; we don't have all of the entries that

           5   we've received into the system yet.

           6             But, as of yesterday, we had about 67,000

           7   entries that had been entered in our system.  But the

           8   mail house distributed about a week later than usual this

           9   year, so we're getting a lot of entries here at the last

          10   few days.  We were getting about 4,000 licenses -- I mean

          11   4,000 entries a day in the last several days.  So we

          12   think that this -- will probably have at least as many

          13   applications as we had last year.  And the drawing's not

          14   going to be held until November 11.

          15             In looking at the drawing types, the three most

          16   popular hunts continue to be the Grand-slam, the White-

          17   tail Bonanza and the Premium Buck Hunt.  Those are the

          18   same three big sellers from last year.  And new this year

          19   is the Gator Hunt.  We haven't sold too many of those

          20   applications just yet, but that would be a good one to

          21   buy if you want better odds.

          22             (Laughter.)

          23             MS. WHITTENTON:  And speaking of our system,

          24   the WorldCom system continues to be very stable; it's

          25   working very well.  We sold 1.2 million licenses in the

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           1   first six weeks, and we had a couple of days with over

           2   90,000 licenses each day, and the system performed

           3   beautifully.  So it is a stable system.

           4             We have a number of things that we've asked

           5   WorldCom to develop in Phase 3.  We have seen a delay in

           6   progress on some of the Phase 3 items.  That would

           7   include things like the internet broker and the catalogue

           8   maintenance.  Part of that I think is due to the fact

           9   that we're in negotiations right now on a contract

          10   amendment and we're discussing damages -- and we expect

          11   to complete that by Thanksgiving, but I think that's

          12   partly why we're seeing a delay in Phase 3.

          13             And in -- also, I guess, good news is that

          14   WorldCom does have a performance bond and expects to have

          15   that in place by the end of November.  And we'll bring

          16   you an update in January on options for where we go from

          17   here.

          18             COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  With WorldCom, do we

          19   have the software in escrow?

          20             MS. WHITTENTON:  It is not in escrow right now. 

          21   We're -- that's under discussion right now.  It's -- it

          22   needs to be.

          23             COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Do we know whether Surety

          24   is issuing the performance bond?

          25             MS. WHITTENTON:  I don't recall.

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           1             MR. BORUFF:  The assumption is yes, but we

           2   haven't seen it yet.

           3             MS. WHITTENTON:  Turning now to the operating

           4   budget, last year, fiscal year 2002, we spent all but 3

           5   percent of what we had budgeted, which was about $5

           6   million or 5-1/2 million.  In looking at that by type,

           7   we -- most of that was operating dollars, not salaries or

           8   capital equipment.  But 74 percent of it was from

           9   operating expenses (travel, professional fees and

          10   supplies) that were budgeted that didn't get spent.  But

          11   it's pretty hard to come in much closer than about 3

          12   percent.

          13             And by fund, most of that's in Fund 9 and -- a

          14   bulk of it from Fund 9 dedicated stamp funds and

          15   legislatively restricted pockets of money.  So we don't

          16   lose any of the money; it's just transferred to the next

          17   year.

          18             And in the current year, we've got about 82

          19   percent of our budget remaining unspent and about 83

          20   percent of the year left to go.  So we're about on target

          21   there.

          22             Just a quick update on the Legislative

          23   Appropriations Requests.  We submitted our official

          24   requests on September 11 and had our budget hearing with

          25   the staff of the Legislative Budget Board and the

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           1   Governor's Office of Budget and Planning on September 30.

           2             And we're currently answering a lot of

           3   questions from the staff of those agencies.  They're

           4   preparing their recommendations to their board, and they

           5   will probably be making those recommendations soon this

           6   month or, at the latest, in December.  And then they'll

           7   officially release their recommendations to the public

           8   in -- at the first week of the session, in January.  And

           9   then we'll begin working from there with the members of

          10   the legislature.

          11             And lastly, with the Business Improvement

          12   Plan -- Bob touched on that already.  We -- in the plan,

          13   there are 96 items that needed to be addressed.  At this

          14   point, 36 of those items are finished, which is 38

          15   percent.  And then there's an additional nine that are

          16   over 90 percent of the way complete.  And then all of the

          17   items -- roughly all of the items, 96 percent of them,

          18   are underway.  There are a few that haven't started yet

          19   because they're dependent upon other things finishing

          20   first or they're low-priority items.

          21             Bob mentioned where we were on the

          22   reconciliation.  We've also undertaken a comprehensive

          23   review of financial processes.  We're writing a lot of

          24   policies and procedures, and we're redesigning the boat

          25   registration and titling system and processes and getting

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           1   our bank accounts all reconciled.

           2             And long-term issues are with the system

           3   interfaces; we've got four revenue systems that we're

           4   writing interfaces into the financial system.  The point-

           5   of-sale system interface is complete, and the law

           6   enforcement system interface is being written right now. 

           7   And we're working on boats and parks, also -- those two

           8   systems.

           9             We've done a lot of work on revenue forecasting

          10   recently.  We've, of course, documented the methodology,

          11   and we're currently working with the Comptroller's Office

          12   on the estimates that we turned in with our

          13   appropriations request.  We don't foresee any problems

          14   with that at this point.  We've just discussed those

          15   estimates with the legislative offices, and I think the

          16   Comptroller's Office is pretty close in agreement with

          17   us; they won't release their estimate until January.

          18             And then, in organizational issues, we've

          19   filled most of our key positions.  We've recently filled

          20   the license manager position and several of the auditor

          21   positions, the budget and planning manager and the

          22   reconciliation analysts.  So most all of those positions

          23   are filled; there's just a couple left, and we're moving

          24   along as fast as we can on this.

          25             And that's all I have unless you have any

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           1   questions.

           2             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Do we have questions from

           3   the Commission?

           4             Commission Montgomery?

           5             COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  We had discussed

           6   having a more thorough budget-versus-actual reporting

           7   package at regular intervals for the Commission.  Where

           8   does that stand?

           9             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We discussed that at some

          10   length yesterday -- Suzy and Drew and I.  And I think

          11   that her -- I'll let her speak to it, also, but that's

          12   something that I think should be of interest to all of us

          13   in that they're working on possibly having something for

          14   the next meeting.

          15             Is that correct?

          16             MS. WHITTENTON:  That's right.  We'll get you

          17   something on a more detailed level.  Also, I can get for

          18   you as early as today if you'd like more detail the

          19   report on the Business Improvement Plan and each of those

          20   96 items.

          21             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I'd like to remind all

          22   the Commissioners to speak as closely to the microphone

          23   as you can so that they can pick it up for the minutes

          24   and record.  I'm bad about that myself.

          25             Any other questions or comments?

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           1             CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  I would like to commend

           2   staff for the very hard work they have done over the last

           3   nine months or so or longer, actually.  We have been

           4   getting very favorable reviews from around town from our

           5   leaders in the various offices about the cooperation, the

           6   thoroughness and the willingness to work together.  I'm

           7   very proud of the work that the staff has done in this

           8   area.

           9             MS. WHITTENTON:  Thank you.

          10             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I certainly second that.

          11             Any other comments on this item?

          12             (No response.)

          13   ITEM 3:  ARTWORK APPROVAL

          14             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  If not, we'll move on to

          15   Item Number 3.

          16             Thank you, Suzy.

          17             This is the approval of the artwork, and I

          18   believe Frances Stiles will present this to us.

          19             We're also honored to have in our presence

          20   today Bubba Wood, who's kind of the power and mover and

          21   shaker behind this whole effort.

          22             We appreciate it, Bubba.

          23             MS. STILES:  Good morning.  My name is Frances

          24   Stiles, and I'm with the Administrative Resources

          25   Division.

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           1             Under the terms of the contract with

           2   Collector's Covey for artwork design and marketing of the

           3   Departmental prints program, the Commission approves the

           4   artwork each year for the waterfowl, non-game, saltwater

           5   and turkey stamps.  This artwork is assembled with four

           6   other prints prepared by the Parks and Wildlife staff and

           7   combined into a collector's version consisting of eight

           8   stamps.

           9             Collectors Covey offers print reproductions

          10   through their marketing network, and Parks and Wildlife

          11   receives a portion of the sale from each print.  This

          12   year's artwork is being displayed on the easels, and I

          13   have Mr. Bubba Wood with me to present the artwork.

          14             MR. WOOD:  Madam Chairman and Commissioners, my

          15   name is Martin Wood.  I own the Collectors Covey in

          16   Dallas.  And for -- this is the 23rd year that we've

          17   presented art to the Commission for the duck stamp and

          18   the 18th year for the saltwater.  And boy, it seems like

          19   yesterday.

          20             On the left, next year's duck stamp we propose

          21   is a Mottled Duck by Sherrie Russell Meline.  And Ms.

          22   Meline did our -- three years ago did -- two years ago

          23   did our -- the Hooded Merganser stamp design.  And,

          24   frankly she was chosen because she was the only artist I

          25   talked to that had any reference at all on a Texas

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           1   Mottled Duck.  And so it was a process of elimination,

           2   but I really think she did a terrific job.

           3             The Green Jay is by John Dearman for the non-

           4   game stamp.  I've got an idea for next year's non-game

           5   stamp, an  endangered species stamp.  We might use a

           6   donkey.  But --

           7             (Laughter.)

           8             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We'll strike that from

           9   the record.

          10             MR. WOOD:  On the -- on your left is a trout by

          11   Mark Sussino from Maryland.  He -- Mark, I think, in 1994

          12   did a redfish for us.  He's probably the foremost marine

          13   freshwater artist in the world, and we're very fortunate

          14   to have him as the artist.  And the turkey stamp this

          15   year depicting the gobbler gobbling -- a shot, gobbling

          16   at lightning is by Reggie McLeRoy, who's a new artist

          17   we've never used before from Louisiana.

          18             I'd be glad to answer any questions.

          19             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That saltwater is

          20   spectacular.

          21             MR. WOOD:  Yes.  Isn't that great?  Yes.  This

          22   guy's really, really special.

          23             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That's spectacular.

          24             MR. WOOD:  Yes.

          25             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Yes.

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           1             Any comments or questions?

           2             (No response.)

           3             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Once again, we appreciate

           4   all your efforts in this area.

           5             MR. WOOD:  Well, thank you all.  I know this is

           6   a proud day for -- I don't know.  It just seems like you

           7   all are happier today for some reason.  I can't imagine

           8   why.  Thank you.

           9             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Thank you, very much.

          10             Thank you, Frances.

          11             MS. STILES:  Thank you.

          12             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  This item is something

          13   that needs to go to tomorrow's agenda.  If there's no

          14   further questions or discussion, without objection, we'll

          15   place it on the agenda for public meeting and comment and

          16   action.

          17             (No response.)

          18   ITEM 4:  COMMISSION POLICY RESOLUTION

          19             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  There being no objection,

          20   so done.

          21             We'll move to Item Number 4.  This has to do

          22   with a Commission policy resolution and will be presented

          23   by Gene McCarty and Suzy.

          24             MR. McCARTY:  Mr. Chairman and Commissioners,

          25   I'm Gene McCarty, Chief of Staff for the Department.  And

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           1   to my right is Suzy Whittenton, Chief Financial Officer. 

           2   The item before you today is a resolution to amend two

           3   Commission policies:  Commission Policy 5, which is the

           4   travel policy, and Commission Policy 9, which is the

           5   budget policy.

           6             The current Commission travel policy provides

           7   for reimbursement of expenses incurred while attending

           8   meetings; this is consistent with the statute.  However,

           9   the current policy also requires Commission approval for

          10   any additional travel pertaining to Department programs,

          11   and this is more restrictive than the statute and, we

          12   believe, unnecessary.  So we're proposing that we would

          13   remove this restriction in an effort to make Commission

          14   policy more consistent with the current statute on travel

          15   reimbursement for commissioners.

          16             I'll let Suzy explain the budget policy.  And

          17   then we'll take any questions concerning this policy

          18   resolution.

          19             MS. WHITTENTON:  Thank you, Gene.

          20             The revision to the budget policy is just a

          21   technicality, a housecleaning issue.  I made a mistake in

          22   leaving out a few words on the policy we had you sign

          23   last meeting.

          24             And I think we have a handout that shows in

          25   yellow the missing words, which was to exempt the federal

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           1   grants and interest on bond proceeds from any additional

           2   approval that you would have to make during the year,

           3   which is what I told you in the -- on the federal

           4   grants -- that policy has been in place for the last

           5   couple of years -- so that when we get new federal grants

           6   in, you don't have to give us additional approval to put

           7   those in the budget.

           8             And the -- we would ask the same for interest

           9   on bond proceeds if the bond funds earn additional

          10   interest that that money could be spent on the same types

          11   of projects.

          12             MR. McCARTY:  Any questions?

          13             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Any questions or

          14   comments?

          15             (No response.)

          16             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  There being none, this --

          17   without objection, we'll place this item on the Thursday

          18   Commission meeting and agenda for public comment and

          19   further action.

          20             And thank you all.

          21             Is there any other business to come before the

          22   Finance Committee?

          23             (No response.)

          24             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  There being none, the

          25   Finance Committee is adjourned.

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           1             CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Before recessing for

           2   executive session, I want to recognize the Texas A&M

           3   students -- wildlife students that are here.

           4             Would you please stand?

           5             (Applause.)

           6             CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  You're a great group. 

           7   Thank you for coming.

           8             COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Are they going to

           9   grade us?

          10             CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  No comments about

          11   football.

          12             COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I hope they don't grade

          13   us.

          14             (Laughter.)

          15             CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG:  Let's see.  We will now

          16   break for executive session.  Therefore, I would like to

          17   announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter

          18   551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings

          19   Law, an executive session will be held at this time for

          20   the purpose of consideration of Section 551.072 of the

          21   Texas Open Meetings Act regarding real estate matters.

          22             (Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., this Finance

          23   Committee meeting was concluded.)

                                ON THE RECORD REPORTING
                                    (512) 450-0342
.

                                                                      21

           1                     C E R T I F I C A T E

           2   MEETING OF:     Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
           3                   Finance Committee

           4   LOCATION:      Austin, Texas

           5   DATE:          November 6, 2002

           6             I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages,
           7   numbers 1 through 21, inclusive, are the true, accurate,
           8   and complete transcript prepared from the verbal
           9   recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum
          10   before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

          11                                             12/10/02

          12                       (Transcriber)         (Date)

          13                        On the Record Reporting, Inc.
          14                        3307 Northland, Suite 315
          15                        Austin, Texas 78731

                                ON THE RECORD REPORTING
                                    (512) 450-0342

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