Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Finance Committee

Jan. 28, 2004

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 28th day of January, 2004, there came on 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 Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I convene the Finance Committee meeting. The first order of business will be approval of minutes, which have been distributed.

Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER WATSON: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Second?

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Moved and seconded. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The motion carries. Now, the first item is the Chairman's Charges.

Mr. Cook?

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. As I described earlier — you have these charges that we are discussing at this point — have been approved by Chairman Fitzsimons and Commissioner Holmes. We have looked at them and worked with them very closely again. And, as you have heard, not only do these charges and these kind of issues come up between staff and Commissioners, but we work with our legislators and our advisory committees.

You can see on finance that the bulk of the first page there — if you glance back at that document on page 4 of that document that we handed out earlier this morning — all has to do with implementing the authority and direction given by the 78th Legislature.

I would like to point out just a couple on the — page 5 there under the finance committee review and implement of appropriate state auditor recommendations and the Business Practices Improvement Plan. Those are both areas that we continue to get review and direction from the State Auditor's Office on a number of issues.

When we do, we take those recommendations and those reports very seriously. We don't always agree with everything they say, but still, they routinely — we have open discussion with the staff and the leadership there at the state auditor. We're looking for ways to improve the way we do business, and we take their suggestions and recommendations very seriously and work in that area, particularly in this finance area, is an area that comes up again.

And the Business Practices Improvement Plan, as you know, a couple of years ago we went to an extensive effort within the Agency, within the Commission, and involving a consultant, an outside consultant to help us develop a plan in some areas, identify some areas that they felt like needed to be firmed up and some changes made.

We have done — I forget the exact — where we are in that whole plan now, but basically, what we have done is everything we can afford to do, from a cost standpoint. And we're at about 70, 75 percent, I believe, of having fully implemented that plan, and we continue to work on some of those items as time's going by. It is our intent to completely and fully do those recommendations.

Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you. Committee item number 2, Financial Review Update. Mary Fields?

MS. FIELDS: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record I am Mary Fields, Chief Financial Officer. I'm here to provide the financial review.

The focus of our presentation will be to provide a revenue and budget status for fiscal year 2004, update you on the progress we've made on the Business Improvement Plan and describe our proposed methodology of allocating the stamp funds included in the super combo license.

We'll start with the fiscal year 2004 revenue and budget status. When comparing state park revenue into the month of November, we are up 11.3 percent, or roughly $550,000 over last year's collections. While all categories of park revenue are showing some increase, the largest component of revenue growth is coming from the use of facilities and reservation deposits.

In looking at the detailed report, I'll just mention a few of the top revenue producers in the facilities area. We have Indian Lodge, which is recently opened, some new facilities, and they're generating some income there, some additional income. In Galveston, that park, the weather is favorable there and there were also some fee increases at that park that are assisting with that revenue increase. And finally, Garner State Park was closed last year during the — for the flood, and that's open now, so, of course, we're seeing some revenue there.

Our boat revenue, as of November 30, is also up by 19.6 percent, or about $450,000, compared to last year at this same time. The increased revenue relates primarily to the increased fees. The number of boat registrations and titles that are issued are actually down at this point, but the increase in the fees is really what's carrying the revenue increase there.

I will just mention, too, that we continue to transfer 15 percent of the registration and titling revenue to Fund 64 for the boat ramps, and that amounts to about $400,000, based on the revenues through November 30.

I've got more positive news coming here on license revenues and sales. As of November 30, again, we're up here about $9.1 million or 19 percent, which closely correlates with the fee increase that became effective this year. Combo revenue's up 19 percent, fishing is up 25 percent, hunting is up 22 percent, and the other license category is up 12 percent revenue-wise.

I want to track a little bit now with just the number of licenses sold that correlate with that revenue. Overall, our total number of licenses sold is up 2.1 percent. Hunting is up 1.7, fishing is up 3.3 percent, while our total combo sales are down by 2.8 percent. With the fee increases, though, we're still carrying fine in that area.

When comparing our fiscal year 2004 revenue collections as of November 30 to the annual revenue estimates, we're looking pretty good. With 25 percent of the year elapsed, we've collected about 46 percent of our Game, Fish and Water Safety fund, 23 percent of the State Park Fund, roughly 18 percent of Local Parks, and the other category is doing well.

I have learned, as well, that there's some sporting goods sales tax that'll be transferred into the State Park and Local Park Funds, which really is going to bring that revenue right up to the 25 percent range in both of those funds. The transfer actually occurred in December. So, while those funds look a little bit low with the fiscal year elapsed, with those transfers for sporting goods sales tax, we're right on track.

In looking at our budget versus expense, you can see at the bottom line there, we've got $234.3 million, or 77 percent of the budget remaining, again, with 25 percent of the year elapsed. Salaries and other personnel costs are right where they should be, you know, with about 75 percent of the budget remaining. Dropping down and looking at the benefits, that's tracking fairly close as well with the salaries.

Our operating and equipment is at about 70 percent of the budget remaining. We do, at the beginning of the year, pay some of our rent on buildings and equipment. So that's why that one is a little bit lower at 70, because we've paid some of the rent up front.

Our grants will pick up, I suspect, as the year moves on. And capital projects, again, seem to be moving along fairly well at 81 percent.

Our overall budget, in summarizing budget adjustments, it's increased by $15 million since the end of September. Budget adjustments made during the months of October and November are summarized here on the slide.

I'm going to focus on that largest adjustment, right on the top line of the $13.9 million of unexpended balances for construction that we're carrying forward into fiscal year 2004.

Basically, our original estimate of the unexpended balance in that category was made a couple of years ago when we were preparing the LAR. And the estimate was low. We really were not sure what was going to happen with the Proposition 8 funding and we ended up actually receiving more donations in federal grant funds than we had anticipated.

So, really, it's good news that we are increasing the budget by the $13.9 million, but it really relates more to just an estimate that was made a couple of years ago that needed to be updated.

And that's about all I'm going to mention on the adjustments. I will say, on the increasing federal funds, there are several small grants that add up together to come to that $588,000.

On the Business Improvement Plan, we continue to make progress there. There are 94 items in the plan, 77 percent of those items are complete. When you track the items that are above 70 — or at least 70 percent complete, we've got 16 percent in that category. So we're moving along on that.

And, finally, the seven items or 7 percent we have out there that are below 60 percent complete. And really, the majority of those items relate to improvements that we're making to our automated revenue systems. And right now, we're looking at three primary revenue systems.

Our revenue system for law enforcement, citations and fines is scheduled to be implemented by the end of this fiscal year. We have a boat registration and titling system that we're enhancing. And that implementation is scheduled for the end of fiscal year 2005.

We also have a revenue monitoring system that interrelates to those systems, and that will be interfacing and coming up with the systems as appropriate. So, these items just relate to the systems that we're working on pulling in.

I will mention that we have a couple — two or three other revenue systems that will take us into fiscal year 2007. I mean, so we've got a lot of work on these systems and we'll see those items drop, but it's going to take a while.

Moving on, the next item to cover is our proposed methodology for allocating super combo sales to our stamp funds. When a super combo license is purchased, there is a discount applied, and currently, a hunting and fishing combo license will cost you $42.

And if you were going to go out and purchase all seven of the stamps that are included in that combo, it would cost you $53, for a total of $95. As you can see on the slide, the super combo discounts those stamps, for a total of $59. So you've got a $36 discount when you buy the super combo, which is a 38 percent discount.

And what I want to talk about is kind of the method of distributing that revenue to the various stamp funds. And there is a history there. In fiscal year 2001, the stamp allocation was based on stamps sales prior to the implementation of the super combo.

And in fiscal years 2002 and 2003, the stamp allocation was held at the same level as fiscal year 2001, while we were conducting a two-year study, looking basically at the super combo buyers and how they utilize those stamps. We recommend that the fiscal year 2004 stamp allocation be held at this historical level, as we are really continuing to review the stamp utilization of our super combo buyers.

Also, just considering some of the changes in the stamps in fiscal year 2005, we thought it — what's best is stay consistent with the historical trends that we currently have.

And that concludes my presentation. Are there any questions?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Mr. Chairman? I had a question on the out-of-state hunting license. Is the — is it the same — I don't know — is it the same fee, is it more for being out-of-state to buy a hunting — a Texas hunting license?

MR. McCARTY: An out-of-state hunting license is significantly higher than an in-state. An out-of-state hunting license is $250.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Okay. Do we have a break out on how many out-of-state hunting licenses we had and what revenue we derive from that?

MS. FIELDS: Yes, sir. And I can provide you with that information.

VOICE: It's substantial.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And that's the big game, they can get the small game out-of-state.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Mr. Chairman. You mentioned that the super combo licenses are down about 2 percent or so?

MS. FIELDS: About 3 percent.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Three percent? Do we have any indication as to why that is? I mean, is that different — that is different from what we had anticipated. Is it not?

MS. FIELDS: We — when we actually did the fee increase, we anticipated a 4 percent decrease in license sales overall. And we are seeing a bit of a drop off on the super combo, but not as much as what we had projected.

Last time I reported on this, we had seen just a very slight decrease, or a leveling off, of the super combo buyers. And I'm not overly concerned about the 3 percent decline. I think it could — you know, it's going to fluctuate a little bit as the year progresses.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Commissioner Henry, in my review with Mary earlier, it looked like there was a small shift from the super combos to the individual hunting and fishing licenses because both of those categories were up and the super combo was down 2.8. And so —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: The total revenue was made up, it was made up — is up, but it was made up by people moving to the middle?

VOICE: Shift.

MS. FIELDS: The fee —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That's right.

MS. FIELDS: Well, the fee increased —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes, they shifted —

MS. FIELDS: — as well.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — to a less expensive —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Now, I mean, the numbers are up.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — prices.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Or more of them.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: More of them. When we estimated, it was a 4 percent — for budget purposes, it was a 4 percent decline, and right now, in terms of licenses, with a 20 percent increase, so that you had about a, what, a 15 percent or so increase in revenue. But right now it's running at 19. So it looks pretty favorable, assuming that the pace continues through the year.

MS. FIELDS: As I mentioned, the overall license sales are up, so.

MR. COOK: Mary, just again, pointing back to the charges and some of the issues there, and I don't want to, I don't — particularly because we — this process is new to some of you, this business about the distribution super combo.

For instance, that question is one that we try to be very careful with, those funds — those stamps are specifically allocated, and that is an area that the State Auditor's Office recommended we do some work on, and, you know, kind of make sure of our background there. And so we are working on that, and have made some adjustments there.

MS. FIELDS: Thank you.

MR. McCARTY: Mr. Brown, let me correct the record. Out of — non-resident hunting is $300, not $250.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Okay. We raised it last time, right?

MR. McCARTY: It was $250. We raised it last year.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any further —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Nobody's ever gotten back on the plane and gone home.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That's right. Any further questions for Mary?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Okay. Thank you. Committee item number 3, License Fee Restructure. Gene McCarty and Mary Fields.

MR. McCARTY: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Gene McCarty, I'm Chief of Staff for the Agency. With me today is Mary Fields, Chief Financial Officer.

The item before you today is a proposal for publication in the Texas Register for public comment that incorporates the newly created Fresh Water Fishery Stamp into our license structure, and restructures our temporary license.

Legislation passed by the 78th Legislature made several changes in our license structure. These include the creation of a Fresh Water Fishing Stamp, the elimination of the Muzzle Loader Stamp, the elimination of the Fresh Water Trout Stamp, and the request to evaluate issuance of a year-to-date fishing license.

To address these changes, we formed a working group with member representation from most divisions. The team was charged with reviewing issues associated with these changes and keeping in mind four guiding principles: maximizing revenue, maximizing customer convenience, minimizing customer confusion and minimizing impacts on our point-of-sale license system.

Let's start with our proposals for the super combo. By definition, a Super Combo is intended to be a one-stop shopping. That is, that it is all inclusive — it's an all inclusive license. To continue with that theme, we believe that we should continue with the Super Combo and include the fresh water stamp at a proposed price of $64 for the Super Combo, and a proposed price of $30 for the Senior Super Combo.

Next we looked at our combination licenses. We found that most purchasers of the current combo license were deer hunters and fishermen in fresh water. We believe that there's — if we eliminated the combo license, that we would have a potential for a significant revenue loss.

So we would propose that we continue this license with a package with the stamps, and with three options, the Fresh Water Combo, Salt Water Combo and an All Water Combo, with a pricing structure for the regular combo at — for Fresh Water at $47, for Salt Water at $52, and at — All Water at $57, and the Senior Combo for Fresh Water at $15, Salt Water at $20 and All Water at $25.

We looked at our basic fishing package and to minimize customer confusion and make sure that everybody has the proper licenses to fish when they purchase their license, we recommend that we provide a basic package, fishing license package, which would be the license and the stamp, in a Fresh Water Fishing Package, a Salt Water Fishing Package, or an All Water Fishing Package, with the Resident Fresh Water Fishing being $28, the Resident Salt Water being $33, the Resident All Water being $38, the Non-Resident Fresh Water being $55, the Non-Resident Salt Water being $60, and the Non-Resident All Water being $65.

To address constituent concerns with our temporary license structure, we recommend discontinuing the three-day resident temporary, the five-day non-resident temporary and the 14-day resident temporary, and creating a single-day license, both resident and non-resident, with options for additional days to be added.

The cost of the stamp would be included in the first day, but good only for the life of the license, that with the additional days that are added. We would propose that the price for fresh water be $13 — this is resident — first day $13, salt water $18, with additional days to be added at $2 per day, and the non-resident be $20 for fresh water, $25 for salt water and additional days to be added at $5 per day.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: There's not an all water option there?

MR. McCARTY: No, sir, because it's a one day license, and we didn't really feel like there was — there were people that are going to fish both fresh and salt water in a single day.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, but you can add days, so if they're here —

MR. McCARTY: You can add —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — five days, they might need an all —

MR. McCARTY: But you can add the stamp to it. You can go back in there and purchase the stamp, the other stamp.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So you can get an all water option if you're here for a four or five day trip and you're fish both fresh and salt —

MR. McCARTY: Then —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: What happens, you buy both?

MR. McCARTY: I think our proposal was to just allow you to add the stamp.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, I see.

MR. McCARTY: So if you bought the fresh water at $13, then you could turn around and add the stamp at an additional $10 for the salt water stamp, and the additional —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The reason I mentioned it, I saw some of those guys in the Sabine Lake area are offering a bass/trout combo.

MR. McCARTY: Okay. And what they would have to do —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And somebody coming from out-of-state, they're not going to be able to —

MR. McCARTY: On a single day deal, they'd have to buy the — add the other stamp to it. Well, we can look into that. I mean, we could provide an all water, we really didn't consider it, but we could provide an all water option, which would basically be the same, it's just adding the additional cost. So your all water option would be $23.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Whatever makes the most money, Gene.

MR. McCARTY: All right. Well, all of these were designed to be revenue neutral in the change.

To kind of counter for the loss of the 14-day license, we propose that there be a Summer Fishing License, which is good for the months of July and August, and it be available in three options, fresh water, salt water and all water, at $25, $30 and $35, respectively.

And then lastly, just to address the legislative interest in this proposal, we would propose the creation of a year-to-date license that would be an all water only, available in all water only, at a proposed fee of $45.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Gene, explain how that would work.

MR. McCARTY: It's good for 365 days from the date of purchase. So if you purchase it on July 1, it's good until the last day of June the following year. And it's still a one-year license, it's just for — it's just good from the date of purchase.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And, I know I'm interrupting your —

MR. McCARTY: No, sir, I'm finished. And I'm prepared to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: You presume that that is revenue neutral?

MR. McCARTY: We don't know what the revenue's going to be on that. It is designed to — if anyone actually purchases it, it will be revenue positive simply because an all water regular fishing license is 38, so an all water — you're paying an additional $7 for the convenience of having a license that's good from year-to-date.

MS. FIELDS: One other thing, though, that we do need to consider is that there is a delayed cash flow when you have this annual license, and so that — the bump from $38 to $45 it is designed to help us cover some of that delay in cash flow as well.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: Gene —

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: — it looked like to me we've changed the non-resident license from $50 to $60 now.

MR. McCARTY: Non-resident all water is $60, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: That would be —

MR. McCARTY: It's $65 — that's $65. That would be inclusive of all stamps. Right now, if you're a — right now you're paying — if you're a non-resident, you're going to pay $50 — if you want to fish in fresh water, you're going to pay $50, if you want to fish in salt water, you're going to have to go ahead and add that stamp, which is going to be $60.

So there's no change on the cost of non-resident, except for the addition of the $5 fresh water stamp.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: Now, you're not changing it because you just don't think the traffic will bear it, or what's the rationale for not —

MR. McCARTY: Well, we just changed it last year, and I do know that you — I remembered that you would have preferred that we go — bring it up — that we ratcheted it some more and I'm — you know, we're willing to take a look at that if that's your wishes. If you'd like us to ratchet it up —

COMMISSIONER WATSON: No, I still think — I still maintain the position that, you know, we charge $300 for a non-resident big game license —

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: — of which we have an over abundance of. And we're charging $60 to, you know, fish a resource that is pretty fragile, so, anyway.

MR. McCARTY: Would the Commission have a proposed amendment to this, and we can certainly publish it. If you want to go up another —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Do you know how that compares? You always compare with Louisiana. I'm just wondering —

COMMISSIONER WATSON: I don't know. I've already asked that question once. I may not want to go back there.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, without identifying Louisiana, do you know how it —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Do they do this to us, the Louisiana Game and Fish?

MR. COOK: Yeah, they don't like to compare to us, I can tell you that.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Gene, do you have any comparison for these?

MR. McCARTY: I'm looking real quick here.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: And I do recall, I think, when we talked about this before, Gene, that the Florida fees were quite a bit higher.

MR. McCARTY: I do have Florida. Florida — non-resident Florida fresh water — an annual fresh water is $31. However, the non-resident salt water is — no, it's $31 also.

COMMISSIONER WATSON: Well, we need to be a trend leader.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Commissioner Parker?

MR. McCARTY: They're 31.50.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Gene.

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Clarify something for me. Maybe I missed something. Go back to the year-to-date fishing resident —

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: — license. How do you — the Fresh Water Stamp, is that going to be a lick and re-lick?

MR. McCARTY: No, sir. That license would be — that license and stamps — and stamp, both fresh water and salt water, would be good for the year-to-date from its purchase.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Okay. So you're actually going to have two different licenses and the stamp can be applied to either license, or —

MR. McCARTY: No, you just — that's the reason we packaged it that way. You'd have a single license. It's a single license, year-to-date —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: On the Super Combo?

MR. McCARTY: No, if you want a Super Combo, it's good from September 1 to August 31.

MR. COOK: This is strictly an annual fishing license.

MR. McCARTY: Strictly a single license item. And it's not hunting or anything else. It's simply fishing. So if you bought a Super Combo, your Super Combo would still be good for our normal fiscal year. This is just a fishing only option, an additional license option.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: When it rolls over to the new stamp of a new year? Am I missing something here?

MR. McCARTY: Well, it carries — it will carry the stamp that is issued as of September 1.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: And even though you will have a new stamp for part of that year, the other stamp will still be good?

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

MS. FIELDS: Just a reminder that this is not a physical stamp, it's actually an endorsement.

MR. McCARTY: Yeah, it's just an endorsement that occurs on your —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Okay.

MR. McCARTY: Yeah, you don't have — you — we no longer issue the stamp that you lick and put on your license, it's just an endorsement.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: The endorsement will be good.

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Okay.

MR. McCARTY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any other questions, discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If no further questions or discussion, without objection, I'll authorize staff to publish this item in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Thank you.

Item number 4, Chapter 53 Finance Rule Review. Julie Horsley.

MS. HORSLEY: Good morning. My name is Julie Horsley. I'm a Program Specialist in the Budget and Planning Section of the Administrative Resources Division. I'm here this morning to discuss the rule review of Chapter 53, Finance.

As Gene McCarty mentioned earlier this morning, statutory provisions require each agency to conduct a review of regulations not less than every four years. And to assess whether or not the reasons for originally adopting the rule continue to exist, and to either re-adopt, amend, or repeal each rule.

Just as some background, Chapter 53 primarily contains Agency regulations associated with license, permit and boat registration and titling fees. It also includes other provisions, such as requirements for license and stamp possession, and requirements for licensed deputies and vessel registration agents.

And that said, as result of the review of Chapter 53, there are a number of proposed amendments that are anticipated. The majority of these are housekeeping type changes that are aimed at ensuring consistency, clarifying language or consolidation fee information.

For example, as part of the general clean up, we would propose reorganizing the information in Chapter 53 for better flow, and moving some existing provisions into Chapter 51, Executive.

There are some other more significant changes that I wanted to bring to your attention as well. First, there are some fee changes that would be proposed as part of this package. The fee for the Salt Water Trotline Tag would increase from $3 to $4, and fees for various business license transfers, such as those for retail and wholesale fish dealers, would increase from $10 to $25. We would also propose eliminating the $3 instructor charge for marine safety enforcement training.

The first of those two items, the Salt Water Trotline Tag and the business license transfers are actually items that were approved by the Commission at the time of the last fee increase in May. They were inadvertently omitted from the information that we submitted from — to the Texas Register, and, as a result, in order to ensure that we're complying with the Administrative Procedures Act, we're bringing them to the table again for your review and approval.

The second item I would like to mention is that the proposed changes we plan to submit would incorporate the license restructuring effort that Gene was just discussing. That would include changes to incorporate the provisions of House Bill 1989, which would add the Fresh Water Fishing Stamp and eliminate the Muzzle Loader and Fresh Water Trout Stamps. In addition, the proposal would include the various license options that were just discussed.

Finally, the proposed changes will also include the addition of language that delineates specific fee ranges for entrance and use at various Parks and Wildlife facilities. The specific facilities that would be covered by this language would include Parrie Haynes, Texas Fresh Water Fishery Center, Sea Center, and WMA's like Old Tunnel and Mason Mountain.

At this time, we would like to request permission to publish the rule review and the changes resulting from that rule review in the Texas Register for public comment.

And that concludes my presentation. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you, Julie. Any questions for Julie, or discussion?

(No response.)

MS. HORSLEY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Without objection, I authorize staff to publish this item in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Committee item number 5, MOU with Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Jasper Fish Hatchery. Phil?

MR. DUROCHER: Yes, sir. Chairman Holmes, Commissioners. I'm Phil Durocher, the Director of Inland Fisheries. With me here this morning is Dr. Gary Saul, he's the Chief of the Fish Hatchery branch in Inland Fisheries. He's going to be responsible for managing this large capital program we're fixing to get into.

The discussions with the Foundation on trying to find some partnerships and seeking some assistance came about as the result of passage of House Bill 1989, which created the fresh water fishing stamp. This stamp, and the revenue that's going to be generated, provides some tremendous opportunity for us to upgrade our facilities so that we can meet the future needs of the anglers of Texas.

Our objective is to make sure that we optimize the value of the investment by the fishermen, that the fishermen are making in our program. To give you a little background on the Fresh Water Fishing Stamp and the legislation and what it actually did, just — there is a Sunset provision in this stamp legislation. The stamp is required for 10 years. In September of 2014, it goes away.

Our revenue estimates over that period are approximately $4 to $4.5 million a year, so we ought to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 to $45 million over the life of the program. And this money is dedicated. It can only be used for the replacement, renovation, repair and maintenance of fresh water fish hatcheries in the state.

The memorandum of understanding that we're going to be discussing this morning is entitled The Fish Hatchery Project Agreement. It is between this Agency and the Parks and Wildlife Foundation. And what the memorandum does, it defines the relationship, of course, that's primarily done by statute between the Foundation and the Agency, and it lines out the party responsibilities and the commitments with regards to this project.

Now, our goal in the whole program is to obtain the greatest value possible to make sure that we maximize our investments, first of all for the Jasper Relocation Project, which is the first project we'll talk about in a minute, but also for the total hatchery renovation project. And we're looking at a $45 to $50 million project over 10 years. And we want to see if there's some opportunity there to get some partners or some sponsors who may want to be associated with the hatchery program itself.

As we briefed the Commission, Gary and I, I guess it was a year and a half ago about the state of the hatchery system, and we identified the Jasper Relocation Project as priority number one. That's the project that we feel like is number one priority and the thing that we're going to do first.

Just for a little reminder, Jasper is a fish hatchery that was built in 1932. There was some additions made in the 1950s, but basically nothing's been done to that facility since 1932. It's over 70 years old and it's in pretty — need of a lot of repair.

We did a — we had an engineering study done on the facility, and came to the conclusion that it would not be in the best interest of the Agency or the state to go and renovate the facility at the current site. There was some issues there with water and other things, so we're looking at relocating that facility to another site.

And what we're seeking assistance from the Foundation — there's a lot of expertise in the Foundation, particularly in these areas — in helping us in two areas. The first area is site selection. We're asking the Foundation to help us select a site somewhere in the Southeast Texas area. The best location in terms of value and in terms of meeting our criteria technically to locate this facility.

And we're also seeking assistance in the area of fundraising. Not only from — like I said, not only from project partners, but from perhaps sponsors who may want to get involved in the total hatchery program.

The terms of the MOU, in terms of site selection — there's two parts that I really think we need to focus on, and one of them is site selection and the other one is fundraising — but in terms of site selection, the terms in the MOU, the first term is, the Foundation and the Department will work together to select a site for a new fish hatchery that will provide the best overall value to the Department and to the state.

The second term, the Foundation will work in concert with the Agency to define and ensure that the selection criteria are sufficient for selecting the best site in terms of the technical aspects and the overall value.

The third bullet, the Foundation is authorized by the Agency and agrees to prepare and distribute an RFP for the hatchery replacement project based on criteria that we develop together.

The next one, the Foundation is authorized to review and evaluate the project proposals from the prospective partners and other parties, and to negotiate with those entities to identify the best overall value with respect to the project.

And finally, the Foundation will present recommendations to the Agency for a project site selection. And I need to make it clear here that the Commission, the Parks and Wildlife Commission, will make the final site selection.

In terms of fundraising, in addition to funding and in-kind contributions sought in connection with the selection of a site for the project, the Foundation will seek long term partnerships and other relationships to provide additional funding, and in-kind contributions to build, repair, maintain, endow or operate existing or new fresh water fish hatcheries.

Again, in relations to fundraising, the monies, gifts and contributions raised by the Foundation will be maintained in an account by the Foundation for use by this Agency to benefit fresh water fish hatcheries. Our use of these funds shall be in accordance with the Department's policy regarding expenditure of Foundation funds.

And, finally, this Agency, our group here, will retain the responsibility for the design, the construction, the project management of the hatchery construction, repair and renovation projects. In other words, we're asking the Foundation to help us on the front end. Once site selection is made, we're going to be responsible for building this project. We're not asking them to manage the project, we're asking them to help us on the front end.

So with that, I'll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Yes, sir?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: What happens to the existing site?

MR. DUROCHER: We're looking at — there's several options. We're kind of talking to the City of Jasper, seeing if they would be interested in taking over the site. We don't want the site.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: An opportunity to sell it and use the funds from that to apply to the new facility?

MR. DUROCHER: That's an option that we have. I'm not sure what the value of that property is. Gary, you have any —

DR. SAUL: No, I don't. But we have a number of options there to consider now as we start to move forward.

MR. DUROCHER: But we had brought that up to the city because it's — initially they were, you know, they were a little upset that we might be moving that facility out of that location and we had a — we've had a great partnership with the City of Jasper. They've been real big supporters of that project, so.

And there's a lot of historical buildings on that project that we may have a little trouble moving. And they were built in 1932 by the CCC Group.

Yes, sir?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Question. You had involved — it may be belt and suspenders, but would it be — would it help us ensure the right outcome in this decision if the Commission endorses the selection criteria that the Foundation's going to publish? So we're on record endorsing a methodology to help prevent — to help insulate us from a sort of hit and run kind of moves that might come late in the process?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's been a successful model in the past. I mean, this is not unlike what you did with the Athens Fresh Water Fisheries.

MR. DUROCHER: Yeah, we're going to work at it, Mr. Montgomery, from the aspect of the technical things that we need to build a fish hatchery. You know, we need a certain amount of land, we need water permits. I mean, we have to assure that we have water for the life of the project. We need roads coming in there so we can haul the fish out of there. We need electricity, we need a certain type of power.

Those are all the things that we're going to look at. There are water quality criteria that we're going to look at. And not only availability of water, a certain quality of water. Those are the technical aspects that we're going to focus on. And, you know, we're probably — well, no doubt we're going to be the ones that are going to write that part of the RFP. What the Foundation is going to do is be putting out the RFP.

We've had several groups that have come to us, several entities that have come to us, and expressed an interest in partnering with us. And we have spoken to those groups, and we certainly hope that interest continues. But what the Foundation's interest is, is to make sure that we've given everybody in that area who has an interest, we give them an opportunity to talk to us.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: The reason why I'm thinking — like the Park Grants program, we get really very little political pressure because our criteria is very clear up front. You know, and it doesn't help to go to the Commissioners and say, help my park over that one for political reasons, because we've got criteria and we can all say that. I just wonder if something similar here might help us establish our — something to think about. You all decide, you know better than I do. But it's just a question.

MR. COOK: I think it's a good point.

MR. DUROCHER: When's the next Commission meeting?

MR. COOK: April. Early April.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's really a legal process issue.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It is. The — I guess the point I was trying to make is that this is consistent with — this is a question — is this not consistent with the Athens Fresh Water Fisheries Center?

MR. DUROCHER: The process is going to be very similar.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: What's the time frame that we're looking at?

MR. DUROCHER: That all depends on what happens here.

DR. SAUL: Our goal is if the Foundation is able to start speaking with entities out there, we would like to have the opportunity to be able to come back to you perhaps this summer to say — ask for your approval for a site, and then we'll be in full gear for design and construction immediately thereafter.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Let me be sure. You're talking about coming back at the August meeting for site approval?

DR. SAUL: If we can move that quickly, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Okay.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So the rest of the Commission's aware of the reason I brought that up, was Athens worked right, the World Birding Center started to go that direction, it didn't work right, got split up because it wasn't worth the pressure, and we ended up with a non — you know, less than optimal business like solution.

There was a strong incentive by at least some of the leadership of the Foundation that they asked for the right to make the final decision, which we can't give. But it might send a little signal to the world if we make it clear that we support the methodology and that we're going to follow it through the outcome and not have a whole new set of rules when it comes to us.

That's the reason for raising it, and a reason to think about it.

MR. COOK: Well, I guess the — you know the main thing, this is such a great project, a very positive project, and we are going to probably be talking to you about this at every meeting, and probably in between meetings, to make sure that — and for me the safeguard, Commissioner Montgomery, is that statement in there that the Commission has final acceptance.

And if we see something going this way or that way, from any direction, you know, we're going to — staff is going to say, hey, folks, hold on a minute. You know, that's not something that we believe will be acceptable, based on, again, the feedback we get.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Chairman, I think Phil raises a very valid issue, though, and the example of the World Birding Center cinches on that. I don't know if the new Commission is even aware of the issues that were involved there, and the eventual outcome. But whatever we could do to avoid that situation, it's certainly to the Commission and Department's benefit, you may want to, at some point —

MR. COOK: I think your point is — I agree. But I don't think anything we can do will necessarily guarantee that that will be —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Oh, we can't guarantee, but we could certainly —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, we can certainly follow a model that has already worked. And the model that's worked is Athens Fresh Water Fishery Center. And for the purposes of this committee item, my understanding is this is a briefing that you're going to follow that same model, that MOU. It hasn't — Bob's got the authority to execute that MOU, and then as the details emerge from that MOU, the final decision is on — with the Commission, correct?

MR. DUROCHER: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Then I'm clear.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: On February 16th, Monday, February 16, at 10:30 in the morning, at the request of several governmental agencies down there in Tyler County, Jasper County and Newton County, there's going to be a meeting at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park.

And invited to the meeting are all of the county and city governing agencies, plus Walter Diggles Babcock, all of the Commission is invited to the committee. I think Mr. Cook and Mr. Durocher, Dr. Saul and anybody else that wants to march with them is invited.

There are going to be some industry people there, there will be Walt Dabney and Dan and our new — you call them a district chief — district —

VOICE: Regional director.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: regional director, Ellen Buchanan, who is now in Tyler, but was just immediately previously manager of Martin Dies, Jr. State Park. And Thomason Turner's people will be there, his district chief will be there, along with several of his aides. And I will be there. I have been working with, not the fish hatchery, but some other issues in and around those counties for about two years.

Phil, is there anything that you need to add to that?

MR. DUROCHER: We're looking forward to that meeting. You know, meeting with those people and telling them what the plans are, how the process is going to work so there's no misunderstanding. Because you can imagine, you know we're already getting calls about, well, you know, I think it ought to be here and I think it ought to be here. But we're going to keep the process clear and above board.

We're extremely excited about this — the prospect here. Our goal is to maximize the value to the state with this project. It's a no brainer for the Foundation. You know, usually when the Foundation — when somebody comes to the Foundation with a proposal, they say, we got a $6 million project, when you raise $6 million we're going to do the project. This project is going to be built. I mean, this will be built. And anything they can do to help us, it just adds value at the end of the program, and that's —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: And you know, each of those three counties wants that hatchery in their back yard. So, I just thought it might be a good idea to bring them all together and have our interests described at one time by Phil and Dr. Saul so that everybody would be on a level playing field. And no one would say, well, you leaned — you let those guys have it and we didn't have a say. They're going to have their say.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I agree, Commissioner Parker. It's good — always a good idea for everybody to hear the same story.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Two things. One, I'd like to encourage us to attempt to structure as much of the private funding to go into a permanent operating endowment as we can. To the extent we have any ability to negotiate with the contributors, that we push it over into part of endowment for the fisheries program, so that we reboot that operating item as much as possible, budget, or else we're unlikely to get to 100 percent.

But I — just, I've sat on the finance committee for a few years — think that's — we can keep naming opportunities, credit, everything else, but we've got to try to put that money into a permanent operating account over the Foundation. So this is a matter of policy. Unless somebody feels strongly to the opposite, I'd like to encourage us to communicate that to the Foundation in negotiations.

And at some point, it doesn't have to be now, I'd love to see the operating and capital budget or projections, just that you have in mind, so I understand the finance, both capital and operations, that we're thinking about, and how it impacts the Department and how it compares to what we can afford.

MR. DUROCHER: We can certainly provide that.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Is there a comparison —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Because this money's capped, I mean, 10 years and we've got to be prepared to operate it once you build it.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: The thing I'd like to understand, from a luxury standpoint is how what we're embarking on compares to what we've had before and does it increase or decrease our obligations. And if it increases them, how are we going to fund it, which gets back to pushing the prior funds that way. And just understand where we're headed with the whole thing because it's a big long term program and I don't know the answer to those questions.

MR. COOK: Philip, our operation today at Jasper, we have how many FTEs and —

MR. DUROCHER: Twelve.

MR. COOK: — we have 12 FTEs —

MR. DUROCHER: At the site.

MR. COOK: — and —

MR. DUROCHER: And I'm estimating the new facility, because of the complexity of it, we're probably going to require about 20 staff. But, yes, there will be an increase in operating, but I'm prepared to take that up in my budget. I mean, it's that important. I mean, that's the way we do it.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well, I believe in the importance of it. I understand that. I'm just —

MR. COOK: I think it's sure.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: — fell the responsibility to anticipate how we're going to handle it and where it's coming from and —

MR. DUROCHER: Believe me, we have those numbers.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: When we replace eight hatcheries and they're all more, it's a different question than just making another budget. So, I just want to see where we're headed strategically.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Commissioner Holmes, I raised the question about timing and time frame primarily because I remember that it — the decisions that this Commission has, the discussions and eventually decisions with regard to the World Birding Center and what happened there.

And that's why I spoke to brief the new Commissioners fairly soon on that situation, so, to the extent possible, we don't find ourselves engulfed, if you will, in controversy that we didn't anticipate or feed ourselves.

For the protection of the Commission and the Department — and there's certainly — Commissioner, you won't be aware of those in these meetings that you're talking about because I'm particularly concerned about them, the public money that we would be mixing here and how that's being handled given the questions that are being raised by the recent audit report on fundraising and the concerns that have been expressed legislatively.

MR. COOK: We will absolutely have a full briefing for you on — an update on World Birding Center, a bit of history at — and where we are today, at the April meeting.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Thank you.

MR. DUROCHER: Okay, if the Commission has no objections to the proposal, we're asking that Mr. Cook be given permission to enter into the MOU with the Foundation, is basically what we're here for.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any objection to it?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: He has the power to do it. If there are not objections, then he has the power to do it.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Rob Elkins, who's the Director of the Foundation.

Rob, would you stand up and wave. Thank you. We appreciate all the good work you're doing.

MR. DUROCHER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you, Phil. Any further comments?

Item number 6, Outdoor, Indoor and Boat Ramp Grants. Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I'm interested.

MR. HOGSETT: Mr. Chairman —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: He's going to explain that indoor boat ramp.

MR. HOGSETT: — members of the committee, yes. I'm Tim Hogsett, Director of the Recreation Grants Program in the State Parks Division, and prior to me actually going into the grant presentations that we're going to be making to you tomorrow, Mr. Cook asked me to spend a few minutes, especially for the benefit of the newer members, sort of briefing you on how the programs work and what some of the administrative details are.

We have actually five major grant programs, all of which are under an umbrella program known as the Texas Recreation Parks Account. We receive a dedication of a portion of the sales tax that's collected on certain sporting goods sales, and those are dedicated to us for use for various grant programs that we administer.

That amount was — that we receive, is an appropriated amount and it was reduced by about 30 percent in this last legislative session. I'll get into a little more detail about that in just a second.

The first of the five grant programs under that umbrella of the Texas Recreation Parks Account, is our Outdoor Recreation Grant Program. These are 50 percent matching grants to local governments. They have a requirement that applications not exceed $500,000. They can be in any amount up to $500,000.

We take applications for that program twice annually, with the deadlines of July 31 and January 31. They are for the acquisition of and/or the development of public outdoor recreation facilities. We can do everything from acquiring property that will be conserved, very passive kinds of things like trails, to very active recreation things such as athletic complexes and really everything in between that you think of in a public park setting.

They are for local governments. You must be a city, a county, river authority, and a few other local government entities are also eligible to apply for these funds.

The second program is our Indoor Recreation Grant Program. This is a program that was established by state statute after, actually, we'd begun — got into the business of doing outdoor grants. These also are 50 percent matching grants. They are a maximum match of $750,000. We take applications for that program once a year, with the annual deadline being July 31.

And these are, again, very diverse kinds of indoor recreation, public recreation facilities. Everything from very passive nature interpretive kinds of facilities, indoor nature classrooms, all the way to what you would typically see in a very sophisticated indoor recreation center in an urban environment that would have things such as gymnasiums, weight rooms, arts and crafts rooms, senior citizen activity rooms and, again, everything in between. We've done a very diverse number of projects with that program.

It is also limited to local government participation.

The third program is a more innovative kind of program. It's regional grants to local governments. Most of these grants involve multiple political jurisdictions getting together and partnering, or political subdivisions partnering with the private sector to do things that they could not necessarily do on their own.

Most of these have turned out to be large conservation kinds of projects. Things such as the development of a trail along the Rio Grande River from the north end of El Paso all the way through El Paso County. The acquisition and development of land along the Trinity River and the development of a trail quarter in the Arlington/Dallas area. And a number of other projects of similar kinds.

We take applications for that program once a year, and those applications are really not limited in how much they ask for, but from a practical standpoint, most of our grants from that program have been in the $1 to $1.5 million matching range.

We also, as a result of interest from smaller communities, who felt that they could not be necessarily as competitive in the larger program as they could be on their own, developed a Small Community Grant Program. These are for political subdivisions, cities and counties of population of 20,000 or less. They are outdoor recreation facilities and lands.

We take applications once a year for these, matching grants, and the matching grants are not to exceed $50,000. It's been an extremely popular program, and it has done a lot to widen the constituency in support for the local grant programs.

We have a program called the Community Outdoor Outreach Program. These are not bricks and mortar, these are not construction kinds of projects, but are programmic grants to both local governments and non-profit groups. And the idea is to introduce traditionally unserved populations to the services and programs and facilities of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

They're $30,000 grants that do not require a match, and we take those applications twice a year. And they're very many diverse kinds of projects that have been done with that program, everything from kid fish kinds of projects to bringing urban youth into state parks and teaching them about the proper use of land and how to camp and lots of other kinds — again, it's been a very popular program and has really gotten the Department and our mission out in front of a lot of groups that might not necessarily before been involved with what we do.

All of these programs are very competitive. They all receive much more in terms of applications than we have the resources to be able to fund. Consequently, we have scoring systems that have criteria that are adopted by you, the Commission, that we use to evaluate the applications.

You'll see a bit more about how that works in the listing of the projects that we're going to — that I'm going to talk to you about in a few minutes. But save it say, that it is a very competitive program and it's decisions are made by you on the basis of some criteria that you've developed and adopted.

We are about to embark on — about every five years, we update our rules and go through the process of evaluating how we do business, including everything from what's eligible to the scoring systems that we use to administer and make these decisions.

And we're going to be going about doing that through a number of public hearings and other avenues during the spring and summer, and are going to be coming to you probably in November, asking you for permission to publish a new set of rules in the Texas Register that we hope that you will be able to adopt next January. So we welcome your participation in that process and your input and your insight, particularly in things such as the scoring system and how we make the decisions of who's funded and who's not.

As I mentioned, the 78th Legislature — honestly they were kind to us. They allowed the programs to continue and allowed the dedication of the sporting goods tax to continue. They did, however, make a 30 percent cut in the amount of money that's appropriated to the program.

They also allowed us to continue to receive the interest that is earned on sporting goods tax. The sporting goods tax itself is estimated by the comptroller, the tax that's collected on these sales, to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 to $90 million. They capped the amount that we're able to receive, though, legislatively.

And they've actually now backed off from that legislative cap by another 30 percent, by reducing the amount of money that's appropriated to the program. We're hopeful that maybe in the next session that the climate will be that we can regain at least that 30 percent that was lost.

To give you an idea of how that looked in terms of numbers, prior to this current biennium, we received appropriations of about $15.5 million a year, plus about $5 million a year in interest earned on sporting goods tax sales, for a total of approximately $20.5 million annually that was available for these grants. That was reduced by about 30 percent to a total of approximately $13 million per year, each of the fiscal years 2004 and 2005.

And that's really all I have prepared for you about the programs in general. I'd be happy to answer any questions if you'd like before we get into the specifics.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Do you have any questions at this time?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Okay. Tim, go ahead.

MR. HOGSETT: Uh, oh. I am not changing, we're on that same presentation.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Let me get rid of that 30 percent cut —

(Pause.)

MR. HOGSETT: Okay. Let me — give me just a second to find my place here. Outdoor Recreation Grants, we received 30 applications for the July 31, 2003 deadline requesting a total of $13.1 million in matching funds. We've scored, rank ordered, those projects using the scoring system. Those can be found at Exhibit A of item number 3, for tomorrow's public hearing.

And we're going to be recommending to you tomorrow that you approve the top 10 applications on that list of 30 in the amount of $4,827,582. I will point out, that of those 10 applications, six of them are re-submissions. In other words, they are applications that have been before you before and didn't make the cut and have improved their score and come back and they are now being recommended for funding.

And I'd be glad to answer any questions that you have on that.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: How do you decide — obtaining the $500,000 approximately?

MR. HOGSETT: You mean how much money goes to each program?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: How do you decide to round if off at that $500,000?

MR. HOGSETT: Oh, the amount of cap for the program? That's something that — as part of the last public hearing process, we asked local governments, given the total amount of resources that we have available, what do you think is a reasonable amount to say that you can't apply for more than amount?

We do have applications that will come in less than the cap. Not very many of them normally get funded, because one of the criteria in the scoring system is the diversity and the numbers of kinds of facilities that they're supporting.

But, basically, that $500,000 cap for outdoor and $750 for indoor are what our customers told us that they thought was the right thing to do.

Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I'd just like to say for the new Commissioners, this — Tim does an amazing job, does a great job with this. And I was very sorry to see this program take a cut because, as you're already experiencing, you get a lot of mail and telephone calls from people, and you will on these subjects, where people try and directly lobby a Commissioner on one of these programs.

And it's one of the easiest — you're saying what's the answer, it's the easiest one to get, because as you say, follow the instructions, do what Tim tells you to do and if you don't get it the first time, keep doing it, follow the instructions, and that's all I got to tell you. And Tim makes that easy. It's a very well run shop.

MR. HOGSETT: On behalf of the staff, we appreciate that very much.

MR. COOK: Tim, I just second that. I see Elaine and several of your folks in the audience and, for all the Commissioners, you know, it's not just a matter of here's the rules, here's the way to do it. These people — our folks go to these communities, go to these groups, sit down with them and literally walk them through the process, help them fill it out, and say, look guys, you're going to be weak on points in this area, you need to do some things in conservation, that'll help you get extra points.

So that's part of the process, too, and I support that, what the Chairman said, very much.

MR. HOGSETT: And, again, as we get into these — this rule making that we're about to do, and looking at the scoring system, again, I really would like to invite your help in doing that, because it's your system, and we want to make it reflect what you think is the right way to be doing business.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: You ready for me to go on —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes.

MR. HOGSETT: — to this — to the next one? Indoor? Indoor Recreation Grants Program, this is the program that was the most affected by the reduction in — by 30 percent in the Texas Recreation Parks Account. The legislature, in one of the riders that was attached to our appropriations bill, specifically said, you will only make about $1.2 million available over the biennium for Indoor Recreation Grants. And that was down from about 3.2 million that had been previously available.

And you'll see that that's specifically reflected in the fact that we're only going to be recommending one project to you this time for Indoor Recreation Grants.

We received 11 applications for the annual deadline requesting $6.6 million in match. We rank ordered them using the scoring system, that you can find in Exhibit A. We are, therefore, recommending only one application in the amount of $637,500 in matching funds. And, once again, it's a resubmitted project. It's been in a couple of times previously.

I'd be glad to answer any questions that you have on those.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions?

(No response.)

MR. HOGSETT: The third item that I have for you today is boat ramp funding. We've been coming to you more often with this, simply because our resource is a little more liquid. We are fortunate to receive federal money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of our, what's known as the Wallop-Breaux Program.

Fifteen percent of the money we receive from that program goes into boating access projects. Those projects traditionally are boat ramps, but they can also be other things such as dredging for boat access, and one of the projects is such today.

Originally, the boat ramp program went into business in 1975 when the legislature allowed us to use some of the license fees that we receive for providing for boat ramp projects.

The Boat Ramp Grants can be made for both construction and acquisition of land for construction of boat ramps. They are 75 percent matching grants that go to local governments, and one of the provisions is, as with the case with all of our grant programs, is that the local government agrees to operate and maintain those facilities for their expected life time.

We received three applications since we were here last, requesting $1.2 million in 75 percent matching funds assistance. Corpus Christi is requesting $500,000 for the construction of a three lane boat ramp that will be right in the main marina on south Shoreline.

Aransas County Navigation District Number 1 is requesting $500,000 for the construction of a one lane boat ramp, and then quite a number of associated facilities to be located in the City of Fulton in very popular Fulton Beach Park, which is right on Aransas Bay.

This third project is not a boat ramp, but is a dredging project that will provide reopening of public access to a very large marina and subdivision in the Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Port Aransas area. We've got a private marina that is willing to partner with us for the cost of the dredging of this channel, and we're requesting that you authorize us to enter into an agreement with them for opening — reopening this boating access.

So these are the three projects that I'll be bringing before you tomorrow.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Tim, how much is that request for?

MR. HOGSETT: $261,000.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: 261?

MR. HOGSETT: Uh-huh. They're also partnering with the Corps of Engineers and some other — GLO to do some of its work.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Do you have an estimate of the total cost of that?

MR. HOGSETT: Yeah, it's, I think, several million dollars, a couple of million, if I'm not mistaken.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: It's 4,000 feet.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: This is obviously going to be a permanent solution, hopefully?

MR. HOGSETT: Well, there's no such thing as a permanent solution when you're dealing with heavy boat traffic and storms, but hopefully it'll open it up for a fairly long period of time.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: It's unusable basically?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, it is literally silted in. And, again, I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions for Tim? Comments? You have any further —

MR. HOGSETT: I'm done.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If there's no — if there are no further questions or comments, without objection, I will place these items on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Is there anything further to come before the —

MR. COOK: I believe that's it.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — finance committee?

Thank you, Mr. Cook.

Hearing none, we'll pass the gavel.

(Whereupon, the meeting was concluded.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Finance Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: January 28, 2004

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 60, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

2/16/04
(Transcriber) (Date)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731


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