Wednesday, 9:00 am, November 7, 2007Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
- Land and Water Plan Update
Staff: Robert Cook
- Proposed Stamp and Print Artwork Program (Action Item No. 3)
Staff: Frances Stiles
- Implementation of Recommendations by the State Auditor's Office Audit of State Parks Financial Processes – Status Update
Staff: Scott Boruff
- Sunset Commission Review of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Staff: Gene McCarty
- License Fee Increases
Staff: Larry McKinney
- Approval of Projects Funded from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Capital Account (Account 5004) (Action Item No. 14)
Staff: Julie Horsley
- Equipment and Maintenance Provider Review System Rules – Mandated by Legislation (H.B. 12) (Action Item No. 6)
Staff: Ann Bright
- Party Boat Regulations – Mandated by Legislation (H.B. 12) (Action Item No. 17)
Staff: Alfonso Campos
- Local Park Grant Rule Amendments – Mandated by Legislation (H. B. 12) – Permission to Publish
Staff: Tim Hogsett
- Approval of National Recreational Trail Grant Funding (Action Item No. 4)
- Off-highway Vehicle Development in Crockett County
- Local Park Grant Funding for Projects Identified by Appropriation Rider (Action Item No. 5)
Staff: Tim Hogsett
Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Robert L. Cook
Land and Water Plan Update
I. Executive Summary: Executive Director Robert L. Cook will briefly update the Commission on the status of the agency's efforts to implement the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (the Plan).
II. Discussion: In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature directed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop a Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (Tex. Park & Wild. Code §11.104). In November 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. The Plan is available on the TPWD web site. Executive Director Robert L. Cook will update the Finance Committee on TPWD's recent progress in achieving the Plan's Goals and Objectives as they relate to the Finance Committee.
The Plan consists of 8 Goals and a total of 56 Objectives. The Goals stated in the Plan are as follows:
- Goal 1: Improve access to the outdoors.
- Goal 2: Preserve, conserve, manage, operate, and promote agency sites for recreational opportunities, biodiversity, and the cultural heritage of Texas.
- Goal 3: Assist landowners in managing their lands for sustainable wildlife habitat consistent with their goals.
- Goal 4: Increase participation in hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation.
- Goal 5: Enhance the quality of hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation.
- Goal 6: Improve science, data collection and information dissemination to make informed management decisions.
- Goal 7: Maintain or improve water quality and quantity to support the needs of fish, wildlife and recreation.
- Goal 8: Continuously improve TPWD business management systems, business practices and work culture.
Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Scott Boruff
Implementation of Recommendations by the State Auditor's Office
Audit of State Parks Financial Processes
I. Executive Summary: In March 2007, the State Auditor's Office (SAO) issued a report titled Financial Processes at the Parks and Wildlife Department (the audit). TPWD takes the SAO's audit recommendations seriously and is committed to fully addressing the issues raised by the SAO as set out in TPWD's responses contained within the audit report. TPWD staff will brief the Commission on the audit recommendations and the status of TPWD's implementation of those recommendations.
Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Gene McCarty
Sunset Commission Review of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
I. Executive Summary: Legislation passed by the 80th Texas Legislature requires the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to undergo review by the Sunset Commission in 2009. The first step in the sunset process is the submission of a self evaluation report (SER). TPWD submitted its SER on August 24, 2007. Staff will update the commission regarding that report and the sunset review process.
Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Larry McKinney
License Fee Increases
I. Executive Summary: Staff will develop a series of strategies and options for Commission consideration to increase funding for conservation activities. An increase in license fees in support of programs in the affected divisions will be an important strategy for consideration. This briefing will provide background and broadly discuss these issues.
II. Discussion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department depends upon the sale of licenses (65 percent) and the annual apportionment of federal excise taxes on the sale of sporting goods (35 percent) to fund conservation programs such as Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement and Wildlife. No general revenue (state sales taxes) is allocated to these programs. As an example of user pay-user benefit, Texas programs are exemplary. According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, Texas ranks first in the number of hunting participants (1,115,000) and second in fishing (2,500,000). Hunting and fishing in Texas is a multi-billion dollar business annually providing economic benefits across all regions of the state. Constituents have actively supported conservation initiatives, not only through license purchases but as partners and advocates. The agency has consistently enjoyed high approval ratings with constituents because of this relationship and the effectiveness of the programs funded by them.
It will not be possible to maintain this level of excellence into the future without considering strategies to increase funding. A review of projected revenue versus appropriation authority would indicate that all undedicated Fund 9 balances would be expended by 2011. Operational costs have continued to rise and the salaries of our biologists are increasingly less competitive. Infrastructure and facility maintenance needs have been deferred or minimized in order to maintain acceptable levels of service. There is a consistent and growing demand for expanding programs, services and law enforcement that has stressed existing capacity to the limit of budget resources. A number of strategies are being developed to address the anticipated shortfall and provide additional funds for expanding programs. Consideration of a fee increase is an important one. Without enhanced revenues, all Fund 9 divisions will be forced to make significant reductions in budgets by the 2011 fiscal year.
Staff will develop a series of strategies and options for Commission consideration to address these concerns and regularly brief the Commission on progress.
Committee Agenda Item No. 9
Presenter: Tim Hogsett
Local Park Grant Rule Amendments
Mandated by Legislation (H.B. 12)
I. Executive Summary: TPWD staff requests that proposed revisions to Subchapters B-E of Chapter 61 be published in the Texas Register for comment. As background, the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program (TRPA) is funded through a dedication of a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods. Chapter 24 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code requires the adoption of rules and regulations for grant assistance. Programs administered as part of TRPA include:
- Outdoor Recreation Grants
- Indoor Recreation Grants
- Community Outdoor Outreach Program Grants
- Regional Park Grants
- Small Community Grants
- Urban Park Grants
Administrative changes are also being proposed for the Recreation Trails and Boating Access grant programs.
II. Discussion: The proposed changes are necessary due to the actions of the 80th Texas Legislature (2007) restoring funds to Local Park Grants, and creating the new Urban Park Account program for Texas' largest metropolitan areas.
During the last two months, staff has been preparing draft rules and regulations for administration of the TRPA for consideration by the Commission. The last such general review of program guidelines was in 2004. Since August 2007, the following major activities have taken place in the process of preparing draft rules:
- August 28 – Staff retreat
- September – Survey mail out
- September 11-26 – Public Hearings: Austin, Arlington, Odessa, The Woodlands (Houston area) and Harlingen
- October 22-23 – Urban Park Summit
Proposed rule changes include revisions in the priority ranking (scoring) systems used to distribute funds in the following general areas:
- Outside reviewers
- Recreation programming
- Environmentally responsible activities
- Conservation criteria
- Park and recreation master plans
- Recreation diversity
Other administrative recommendations may include:
- Including more rigid sponsor performance expectations
- Adding additional application deadlines
- Increasing funding ceilings
In general, the proposed rules are not anticipated to dramatically alter existing procedures.
We will also be presenting proposed rules for the administration and scoring of grants under the newly created Urban Park Grant program.
TPWD staff recommends that the proposed changes be published in the Texas Register for public comment.