Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

License Fee Control Gets a Second Look

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

License Fee Control Gets a Second Look

Article excerpt

Ask John Arway how Pennsylvania's semi-autonomous wildlife agencies will remain solvent in the not-so-distant future, and his answer might not be what you would expect from the executive director of the Fish and Boat Commission.

"We don't know," he said. "What we do know is that with rising costs and increasing responsibilities, the funding model that we've been relying on for nearly 100 years is no longer capable of supporting us. We need to change the model."

Last week Arway visited the Post-Gazette to press his case for passage of two state Senate bills that would give his agency and the Game Commission authority to manage their own license fee structures.

"The current system is, the lines cross and we find we're in need of a funding increase," he said. "We ask the legislature to raise license fees and they tell us it's the wrong time for them to vote to raise costs on their constituents. We ask again year after year and finally the need is so great they approve a big increase, and we lose 10 percent of license sales because of sticker shock."

Senate Bill 1168 would amend state law to permit Fish and Boat to control its license fees. Companion bill 1166 would give the Game Commission the same freedom. Arway said the arrangement would enable his agency to respond faster to fiscal need with less painful fee hikes.

"People say, why don't you run [Fish and Boat] like a business? Well, this is it. This is how businesses respond to rising costs - they find creative ways to pass those costs on to their customers," Arway said. …

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