Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Aug. 24, 2005Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 24th day of August, 2005, there came on to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Ned S. Holmes, Houston, Texas
- Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas (absent)
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas
- Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
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 FITZSIMONS: The meeting will come to order. Before proceeding with any business, Mr. Cook, you have a statement to make?
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the office of Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings law. I would like for this action to be noted in the official record of this meeting.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Bob. We begin today with the Finance Committee.
Commissioner Holmes, call your committee to order?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Approval of the previous meeting minutes?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: So moved.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Moved and seconded. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Opposed?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The motion carries. Chairman's Charges.
MR. COOK: I believe, Mr. Chairman that as far as our Chairman's Charges in the various committees today, we have been coordinating with the Chairman. Staff has developed a long list of possible charges, of which we will be working with the Chairman and you folks over the next several weeks to select those that you want us to work on over the next year. And we will identify those between now and the next meeting.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you. Legislative update, Bob?
MR. COOK: In our legislative update, and I failed to mention, excuse me, I failed to mention kind of where we are as far as our Finance Committee Chairman's Charges. I should have mentioned to you, we did kick off our new '06 license year on August 15. And of course, that is always when we all kind of sit around with clenched teeth for a few days while that is going on. I see Kim Dudish back there, who — Kim and her group just worked this thing to the detail. So far, we have had very few glitches. We do have a glitch that we are working on, on the back side. If you have already bought your license, which I am sure that all of you have, on the back side of our mule deer tags we have got a little glitch that we are going to try to get worked out. I think we will be able to live with it anyway, but it is going well right now. We are watching sales on a day-by-day basis and we are well ahead, slightly ahead, of where we were last year. Sales across the State going well. I believe that is all I have.
As far as the legislative update, I am not going to take time to go through any particular list, item by item, other than to say to you from the legislative session, the bills that were enacted, we have addressed those bills that need any regulatory adjustments. You will see some of these in your packet in this committee meeting, in this Commission meeting. Other regulations are in place by law. And everything I believe is headed in the right direction there.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you.
Any questions for Mr. Cook?
Mary, would you please come up, but before you start, I would like to ask Vice-Chairman Henry to make a comment or two.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I promised the Commission that I would update you from time-to-time on the Sheldon campaign. I have prepared just a one-pager here for your information, just to show you some of the things that have happened, and to say what we plan on happening.
I have listed for you the major gifts that we have received from foundations, starting with the Houston Endowment's million-dollar gift. A second one is one we received just recently from Anheuser-Busch, a $500,000 grant. They named a lake observation tower for John Jacob, a local Houston boy and an old and dear friend of mine. You can see the list of the rest of them. I want to particularly thank Commissioner Holmes for his assistance so far with several of these, and have recently had an endorsement from our new Commissioner, who has agreed to assist us. So thanks Dan for getting involved as well.
We are kicking off the September phase of the campaign for the final few months of phase two, hopefully, and we will be contacting other foundations, corporations for the first time, and individuals as well. Some of the new Commissioners may not know that we did receive funds from other sources. We got a $50,000 court designation from a polluter in the Houston ship channel. We received oil lease funds from Sheldon. Commissioner Holmes chaired the Expo Auction and raised about $55,000 from Sheldon. And the Commission itself made grants. I can recall $50,000 for the trail fund and the boat ramp funding. So money is coming from a number of sources. We are going to continue. I am going to continue. I am like a bad penny. I just don't seem to leave this place. And I am not looking forward to it. I enjoy it tremendously. So I just wanted to let the Commission know that we are underway again.
That tsunami fund that President Bush and Clinton chaired sucked all of the money out of Houston for a good while. They raised a lot of money. And we just virtually had to shut down. But in summer, you can't raise any money. But now, we are getting ready to start again. So we are hoping to make a big push.
I just wanted to let you know about that, and thank you for all your help. Commissioner Brown was very helpful with the Anheuser-Busch gift, and so I just want to let all you guys know how much we appreciate it. This is going to be a hell of a project, that all of us can be very proud of. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Good work. Very well done.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thanks.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Commissioner Henry, if you were shut down by the Bush and Clinton tsunami fundraiser and you only raised $2-1/2 million, that is pretty remarkable. And congratulations, and really, you have done a superb job.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thanks again. Thanks for your help.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I know it is a passion for you.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: It is not easy raising money for a state organization.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes. That is right. Well, you have done a terrific job.
Operating and Capital Budget, Mary Fields. Mary, would you walk us through the budget, please?
MS. FIELDS: I would be happy to. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, I am Mary Fields, Chief Financial Officer, and I am here to present several segments to you this morning. Here we go. We'll start off with the financial review.
The focus of our presentation today will be to provide a revenue and budget status for Fiscal Year 2005 and update you on the progress we have made on the Business Improvement Plan. We will start with the revenue and budget status.
When comparing state park gross receipts through June 30, at $25.7 million, we are up 7.3 percent or $1.7 million over last year's collections. In reviewing the categories of park receipts, you can see that all categories have increased. The largest component of revenue growth continues to come from the State Park Pass sales. We have sold, at this point, $3.2 million worth as of June. Which is $556,000 over last year's receipts.
Our boat revenue as of June 2005 is at $16.3 million. This is up by 5.5 percent or $852,000 compared to last year at this same time. The increased revenue relates to increased boat registrations and titles. The registrations are up by 4.3 percent and the number of titles issued are up by 8 percent. We continue to transfer 15 percent of our registration and titling revenue to Fund 64, which amounts to $2.2 million based on revenues through June.
More positive news, on the license revenues and sales, I did pull more recent data for the license sales at the close of the license year. This status is as of August 3. At that point, we were at $86.4 million. We are up $6.7 million in revenues as compared to last year, or 8.4 percent. If you were to exclude the Freshwater Fish Stamp revenue of $4.8 million, to be more comparative to the prior year, we would still be up by over $2 million, a 2.6 percent increase over last year's sales at this same time.
In looking at the categories, combo revenue is up 2.7 percent, fishing is up .6 percent, hunting is up 5.3 percent, and other licenses are up 2.2 percent. I will tell you that I looked at a sales report as of August 17, and this number is now close to $87 million. So we are going to close out the year in a good way.
In reviewing the numbers of licenses sold as of August 3, we sold 4.2 million, which is up 34.2 percent. Hunting was up 2.3, fishing was up 1.2 percent, while total combo sales were down by 4.1 percent, when compared to last year's sales. If you were to exclude the 994,000 Freshwater Fish Stamps from the total, we would still be up by over 84,000 licenses, which is a 2.7 percent increase.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Mary, the two weeks between August 3, and August 17, when you said that you kind of looked at it.
MS. FIELDS: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: None of that increase is on next year's sales. These are all for the tail end of —
MS. FIELDS: That is correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: August 31, '05.
MS. FIELDS: Yes. This is, and those sales actually go through August 31. We usually see a slowdown when the new licenses go on sale August 15, but we will still sell some fishing licenses and that sort of thing through the end of the year.
And on the '06 sales, I did look at a report, and as of August 23, we are at $5.3 million for this year's sales.
And looking at our fiscal year 2005 revenue collections, compared to our Annual Revenue Estimates, as of June 30, we are progressing as expected.
With 83 percent of the fiscal year elapsed, we have collected 92 percent of our Fund 9 Game, Fish and Water Safety funds, 92.7 percent of state park funds, 84.7 of the local park funds, and our other category is at 75 percent.
In reviewing our fiscal year 2005 budget versus expenditures of our $300.2 million budget, you can see we have $83 million or 27.7 percent of the budget remaining, with 17 percent of the fiscal year remaining. Salary and other personnel costs are right where they should be with 18 percent of the budget remaining. Benefits are not tracking quite as closely. That is due to some salary adjustments that were made at mid-year. Spending on operating and equipment is progressing, with 27.8 percent of the budget remaining. I do know that that category has picked up this summer. Grant activity is progressing nicely, with 18.5 percent of the budget available. And we are showing 54.1 percent of the capital project budget still available, but there is still several projects in progress. So we'll see this balance continue to decline.
Our overall budget has increased by $2.5 million since the end of March. Budget adjustments made during the months of April, May and June are summarized here on this slide. The most significant increase occurred in the grants category for $923,000, and that was comprised of numerous adjustments, including a large state grant of $696,000 to address coastal erosion at Goose Island State Park. All of the other categories consist of numerous smaller adjustments.
Moving on, if there aren't any questions to the Business Improvement Plan — we really haven't seen any real movement ahead on the Business Improvement Plan since I reported to you in May. As I have mentioned in the past, many of the remaining recommendations relate to automated system improvements, and that is going to take some time to complete. Since we are getting toward the end of this plan, I do not plan to continue to report on the activity at each Commission meeting. Instead, I will report annually on our progress on this report, and we will monitor the automated system improvements as the year progresses.
And that concludes the financial update. I will move on to presenting the proposed fiscal year 2006 operating and capital budget.
Excuse me, Mr. Parker.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Just to clarify and bring me up-to-date, and maybe one or two of the Commissioners, what is the advantage of doing away with that report that you mentioned you will only do it once a year, instead of —
MS. FIELDS: The plan contains several recommendations that related back to the Bomer report; the study that was done here. And several of those recommendations we were able to accomplish in the first year or two. But the ones that are left relate to automated system improvements for reconciling and tying our revenue systems to our financial systems, and some improvements to our boat titling and registration system. So we are working on improving those systems, but it is going to be another year to two years before we can accomplish all of that. So we won't really be able to mark those recommendations off the list until we complete those. So what I thought I would do is just every now and then tell you how we are doing on the systems.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: You will give us a progress report.
MS. FIELDS: Yes, I will. But there is no point in continuing to say, you know, we have maybe moved a little bit.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Excellent. Good plan.
MS. FIELDS: So we will keep an eye on the plan.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Good plan.
MS. FIELDS: Okay. All right. If there are no further questions, we will move on to the budget, operating and capital budget. Today, I would like to discuss how our budget is financed, to provide you with a quick recap of our budget process, outline some related budget impacts, provide a couple of different summaries of our budget, recap our budgeted FTEs, and wrap it up with a couple of budget issues.
I will start with some background on how our operating budget is financed.
We start the budget process with the appropriations that are authorized in the General Appropriations Act. And for fiscal year 2006, we were authorized $235.2 million. There are 30 riders in the Act that are specific to our department, and I will be highlighting a few of those in the next couple of slides. And it also includes — those riders include the capital budget rider and some specified limits, which you will also be reviewing. The Act also authorizes the number of full-time equivalents, or FTEs as we call them, for our department. And we are capped this year at 2,919, which is a reduction from the prior year. And I will provide a little more detail about those reductions later in the presentation.
To highlight a few of the more significant items for our appropriations, we will start off with the good news. We received $2.1 million of emergency appropriation this fiscal year to repair the San Jacinto Monument. For fiscal year 2006, we received $18.1 million of Proposition 8 bonds that were approved for critical repairs, $15.1 million of revenue bonds were approved for the hatchery in East Texas, $16.1 million of federal funds were earmarked for drydock repairs to the Battleship Texas, and we are currently working on a required match to receive those funds.
And we are fortunate to get a rider that allows us to increase our appropriations at mid-year to the extent that our revenues exceed the State Comptroller's revenue estimate. And this fall, we'll be preparing projections in a revenue estimate for the Comptroller's review and approval. And if she provides a finding of fact on those estimates, then we should be able to increase our appropriations. So that is pretty good news for us.
More good news here. We have received a rider that allows us to exceed the capital budget restrictions if we receive gift, grants or federal funds that specify that we spend the money on those capital-related items. And you will see when I review the capital budget limitations, that we can definitely use the help from this rider.
We also received approval to utilize proceeds, if we sell the current Game Warden Academy facility, to construct and equip a new Game Warden Academy. We received authority to build residences at Government Canyon, the new Game Warden Academy, and at the East Texas Fish Hatchery.
Employees received a pay raise and increases in longevity and hazardous duty pay, and our Executive Director also received a pay increase. That pretty much wraps up the highlights of the good news.
The rest of the news is that we had to absorb a 5 percent reduction from our General Revenue related accounts. And that resulted in us reducing our operations by $2.6 million. And local park grants were reduced by $5 million.
Our FTE cap was reduced by 118, of which 59 resulted from our 5 percent of operational reductions and another 59 resulted from a 2 percent reduction that the Legislature directed state agencies to take. While the increases in longevity and hazardous duty pay, and there was some increases for re-classifications for certain positions, were very positive for our employees, these initiatives were not funded by the Legislature, which meant that we had to absorb those expenses.
And as we have discussed in past Commission meetings, our strategies have grown from ten to 29 strategies. And our ability to transfer funds between these 29 strategies has basically been cut in half to 12.5 percent. This will really limit our flexibility to move funds.
Finally, we were limited in our land acquisitions to the amount that we have available at the end of this fiscal year to carry forward to fiscal year 2006. In looking at some of those capital budget restrictions that were UBed forward for land acquisitions — that was what I just talking about. Moving forward, and carrying forward any unexpended balances.
Construction and major repairs, we were appropriated $39.6 million for that, $703,000 for computers and other information technology equipment, $2.2 million for vehicles, and only $274,000 for capital equipment. And this is office, field, marine, and lab equipment. So, as you can see, some of these categories are pretty slim for our agency. So that is where that rider I just talked about could help us out.
This slide basically cross-walks our budget, as it starts with the General Appropriations Act, and then we make adjustments to get to our total operating budget. We start with the $235.2 million. You can see there are various adjustments that take us to our total of $277.3 million.
The first two adjustments are for the employee pay raises. And those total $8.3 million. And then you see adjustments for appropriated receipts and federal funds.
During the legislative process, we estimate the amount of appropriated receipts and federal funds that we will receive. And it is not uncommon to miss that estimate a little bit. These adjustments bring the estimate up to the more realistic numbers, based on our knowledge now.
Federal funds are a little bit lower, because we don't add the federal funds to the budget until we have signed grant agreements. So you will see this category of federal funds increase as the year progresses.
I will discuss budget adjustments with you as I do in each Commission meeting. And you will see increases there. As you probably know, the benefits category, down there, the $31.5 million relates to employee fringes that are actually paid out by the Employee Retirement System. And the funds are appropriated at that agency. But we estimate the benefits and set fund aside to pay for them. So that is why it is reflected in our operating budget. We have also included an adjustment to carry forward that emergency appropriation to repair the San Jacinto Monument.
This is a view of our method of finance for the budget. We earn close to 50 percent of our funding. With Fund 9, our Game, Fish and Water Safety fund, which includes license and boat revenues, that is at 36 percent. And Fund 64, our state park revenues are at 10 percent. The remaining funding comes from General Revenue at 20 percent, bonds and other funds at 15 percent, and federal funds are at 18 percent.
Next, we'll recap the budget process and discuss some of the related impacts. As I mentioned previously, we use the Legislative Appropriations as a starting point, and then we absorb the budget cuts, the higher salary-related costs and increases for gas and utilities.
For our support divisions that serve the entire agency, we use a methodology to allocate Fund 9 and Fund 64 appropriately to those divisions. And we applied the employee pay raises. Divisions were only allowed to ask for additional budget if they could bring additional funding and related appropriation authority. An example of this would be for additional federal funds that could be brought into the agency.
As we looked at our sources of available funds, and the impacts on divisions, we decided to include an estimated salary lapse of approximately 3 percent for state parks to meet budget demand. That amounted to about $1.1 million. We also ensured that our budgeted programs were justified, prioritized and linked to the Land and Water Conservation Plan.
Some of the related budget impacts — we have talked about a couple of these already — but, the $2.6 million for the 5 percent reduction was absorbed. Another $2.1 million for those salary-related items that weren't funded. And as a result of absorbing those costs, the state parks and the support divisions basically reduced their budget by 4 percent, when compared to the prior year's budget.
And that is with that lapse that we included for state parks. We included that to get them to the 4 percent. Law Enforcement, Coastal, Inland and Wildlife Divisions were reduced by about 2 percent compared to the prior year's base budget. We totally restructured the Infrastructure Division to support reduced bond programs. Their focus will be on project management and delivery. At this point, planning, design and construction will be outsourced.
To meet budget demand, we had to eliminate 171 vacant positions and 12 filled positions. And all of the filled positions were out of Austin.
The high number of vacant positions resulted from a slowdown in hiring that started back around March or April of this fiscal year, as we anticipated the upcoming reductions. So the high number of vacancies was not an accident. But unfortunately, we did have to eliminate some filled positions.
Let's move on to a couple of different ways to summarize the budget. This slide is full, but I have tried to get all of the divisions on one slide. You see the divisions' budgets in millions and the percent of the total agency budget. This is how the agency really operates with our budgets.
Each division has a detailed budget that they manage. On this slide, the first six divisions are administrative, and then we follow with the resource divisions, the department-wide budget, and the construction budget. I am not going to cover all of the numbers on these slides. You have a handout which includes a summary of the divisions, and their budgets, related budgets.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Mary, what is Department-wide?
MS. FIELDS: Department-wide is at $15.4 million. It includes several categories of budget that relate to the agency overall. Items that are included in that category are funding for claims and settlements, any judgments, our payment for our point-of-sale license system, payment to license agents, an Executive Director reserve, lease payments — that sort of thing are included in Department-wide.
The next summary gives a broad overview of our budget by object of expense. And when you consider salaries and other, and the benefits, over half of the budget is spent on most of our valuable contributors, our employees. Twenty-three percent is budgeted for operating, which is utilities, supplies, and travel. Grants represent about 5 percent of the budget, and our capital expenditures are 16 percent of the budget.
In looking at our FTEs, a quick recap. In fiscal year 2005, we had 3,061 FTEs budgeted. In FY '06 we are down to 2,936.8 FTEs budgeted. That is a reduction of 124.2 FTEs. So we were able to easily absorb the FTE reduction that the Legislature reduced — the 118. And as I mentioned before, we are capped by that Act at 2,919. We will not have all of these positions filled at any one point in time, so we will not have any problems complying with this FTE cap.
MR. COOK: I might just comment there. Our budgeted, like Mary says, the difference in that 2,919 and 2,936 would cause anybody to go, wait a minute, if you are capped at 19, why are we budgeting 36? Because we know right now, based on all the past history, we have got vacancies that occur. You have got a lag in time in filling them.
At the end of the year, Mary, I would say there is a good chance we will probably never break even 2,875, you know, at any point in time in the year. So we will — the ability to add those all together and average them by quarter, is that how we do it.
MS. FIELDS: We do average quarterly.
MR. COOK: We will not exceed that 2,919.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And the only lapse that was included within the budget was in the state parks.
MR. COOK: That is correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And there is always lapse in the other part of the operation?
MR. COOK: There is always lapse. So we have left ourselves a little wiggle room there.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Right.
MR. COOK: But we had to use it in Parks, in order to fund the level that we thought we could get.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: To get to balance.
MR. COOK: Yes, sir.
MS. FIELDS: Wrapping it up with a couple of budget issues. Remember again, that the budget includes federal grants and contracts that are currently signed or funded. And we'll make budget adjustments throughout the year. We talked about that. Also, we want to mention that Information Technology will become a separate division within the organizational structure, this upcoming fiscal year. That concludes my presentation on the proposed fiscal year 2006 operating and capital budget. Are there any questions before I move on?
MS. FIELDS: Annually, we are required to review the budget and investment policies. A copy of these policies are included in your handout. I will touch on a few key points of the budget policy. This basically, the Commission authorizes the Executive Director to approve and execute necessary expenditures, budget adjustments and transfers. And there are several different types of transactions that are detailed in the policy. Budget adjustments, excluding the federal grants and bonds that exceed $250,000, require a prior approval from Chairman Fitzsimons and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Commissioner Holmes. I added one item to the Budget Policy this year that relates to allocating the super-combo license revenue to the related stamp funds, according to the methodology, and authorizing related transfers of revenues to appropriated accounts. You will recall, we reviewed the super-combo allocation methodology in the last Commission meeting, and I told you that we would include that in the Budget Policy.
Moving on to the Investment Policy, this policy is required by statute, and must be reviewed annually by the governing body. All funds administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife are required to be deposited in the State Treasury except for the four funds that are highlighted on this slide. While not required, all of these funds reside in the State Treasury, except for the Operation Game Thief Fund.
And those funds are invested in CDS. And I just checked that account balance, it is at about $115,000. All bank accounts must be authorized by delegated investment officers, and must be properly collateralized. And finally, specific reporting requirements are also included in this policy.
Moving on to the final segment for today, and this relates to the Executive Director's pay raise. Basically, the Commission is authorizing a pay raise that puts the Executive Director's salary at $130,000, as approved by the 79th Legislature. And that concludes my presentation. Are there any questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions for Mary? If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday commission agenda for public comment and action.
MS. FIELDS: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you very much, Mary. I'd hate to say the staffing requirements were easily met. Kind of a happy and optimistic upbeat analysis of it. It may have seemed a little harder for others.
Item 4. Resident Military License Stamp Reorganization. Ann Bright.
MS. BRIGHT: Good morning Commissioners. I am Ann Bright, General Counsel. I am going to present essentially two pieces of legislation that we are implementing. And both of these were pretty much self-implemented. In other words, the statute pretty much did all of the implementing, but there was some cleanup that we need to do in some of our rules to reflect that.
The first one has to do with the Game Bird Stamp. Currently, we have three stamps. That is being reorganized so that we have two. An Upland Game Bird Stamp and a Migratory Game Bird Stamp.
For the 2006 hunting season — and as you know, we have already begun selling license for that season — the Turkey Stamp is now the Upland Game Bird Stamp, and the Waterfowl Stamp is the Migratory Game Bird Stamp. And if you will recall, the Commission approved the artwork for those items back in November.
There was also some legislation regarding Resident Military Licenses. And what this did, HB 1076, it waived license fees, hunting and fishing license fees for residents of Texas who are active military. Staff is recommending, really for simplicity, that stamps also be waived. The fee waiver would apply to active military that have resided in Texas for six months. And this would include people who are stationed in Texas for the last six months. To implement these, to clean up the rules to address these pieces of legislation we are recommending the deletion of references to the Turkey Stamp, the Waterfowl Stamp and the White-wing Dove Stamp, and replace those with references to the Upland Game Bird Stamp and the Migratory Game Bird Stamp.
There is one little cleanup involving the Bonus Deer Tag, which we need to delete, and then, establishing a zero dollar super-combo license, which would include all water fishing and all stamps for Texas residents on active military duty. The amendments were published in the Texas Register on July 22.
I think I have an update. There were actually — on the comments, there were 32 as of this morning in favor and 17 opposed. And really, only one of those opposed gave a reason. And that just had to do with I believe that all individuals should pay a fee for a license.
We have received no comments on the Game Bird Stamp reorganization. This is the recommended motion that we will be presenting to the Commission tomorrow. And that concludes my presentation. I will be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions for Ann?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If there are no further questions or comments, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission agenda for public comment and action. Thank you.
State Park employees' acceptance of gratuities. Walt?
MR. DABNEY: Good morning, Commissioner. My name is Walt Dabney, State Park Director. I am here to talk to you about a couple of items today. Generally speaking, state employees cannot accept gratuities or gifts from outside. We have several unique situations in the park system where our employees actually serve food to the public, which puts it in a little different kind of an atmosphere.
The 79th Legislature passed a bill that instructed us to establish regulations that would permit food service employees to accept gratuities. It is going to be in specific spots and the Executive Director has to establish rules and guidelines to implement that. What this would do, it would designate specific employees that can accept gratuities. And they have to follow all Department policies, the federal and state laws for reporting income and that sort of thing. It stipulates that the Department has to follow all applicable federal and state guidelines in reporting gratuity income.
Part of the problem we have had is that the public expects that if you are serving them food — and many of you have been to Indian Lodge — that you would tip them. And we have literally had signs on the table there telling the public they can't do that, which is confusing to the public, it sets up a bad morale situation, because it is a generally accepted practice. People expect to tip, and so it has been a very awkward situation for us.
Food service is offered at five locations. The Indian Lodge Restaurant, the coffee bar at Bentsen-Rio Grande, the Bunkhouse at Big Bend Ranch, and the other two. The one that really is the primary focus of this, and where it is an issue, is the restaurant at Indian Lodge. The others are pretty incidental to this.
But what we would do, the employees' responsibility is that they certainly have to report this as it relates to taxes. And the Agency has to make sure that we are, in fact, doing withholding and whatever else we are required to do. We have established procedures to do that. We are ready to implement this and our recommendation is that we adopt the process for allowing these employees to accept gratuities, and we are prepared to manage that program successfully.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions for Walt?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If there are no further questions or comments, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
MR. DABNEY: Our second item has to do with entrance fees and specifically for the Battleship Texas. We propose to establish a new fee range for the Battleship. That proposal is currently in the Register. The new fee range, which is currently capped between $1 and $7 to go into any unit of the Park System, including the Battleship. The Battleship is currently at the $7 cap. We propose a new fee range of $1 to $15 that would give the Executive Director the opportunity to establish a fee. The reason we are increasing that is, the Battleship is an expensive proposition to operate. To maintain the current services, I think we have got six people there. It used to be taken care of by about 1,200, when it was an operating ship. It is a struggle. We are low in what we charge compared to other ships. For example, the Lexington at Corpus Christi, an adult pays $12 to go in there. What we would be proposing, the Commission has to approve any change in the fee ranges. The Executive Director then, within that fee range, can establish fees.
Every year we do a comparability study that establishes the fair price for that. Sometimes it goes down. Sometimes it goes up. Sometimes it stays where it is. Our recommendation is that we go to a $10 fee at the Battleship. We have done an analysis, and as I said, we compared around the states of people that have ships that do this. We think this is a fair price, and it would increase our revenue, projected at $350,000.
It would be a significant assistance to us in the revenue generation. It is in the Texas Register process right now. As soon as that is completed, with your approval, we would establish this $10 fee and implement it as soon as we could.
We have done that already with a number of fees and selected locations across the system. And we anticipate that will help us in our difficult financial situations.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: In previous times when we have done that, we have increased the fee. Do you see a significant drop-off in attendance? What impact, if any?
MR. DABNEY: In '96, when we did it, we did see a drop-off. But we went, we made a major leap in '96. One of the big things we did is, we went from your carload coming in for $5 to $5 a person. That is a huge jump.
None of these that we have done in the last number of years, which are very incremental and reasonable, we have not seen that drop in users. And we have seen a corresponding increase in our income.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: What about children?
MR. DABNEY: Within this fee structure, we would adjust for seniors, children, whatever else makes sense. Just like we do on the railroad or any place else. School groups. We can work with any individual group to do that. Each park superintendent has the latitude to tailor that fee.
But what the cap does, it lets Bob set within the range, the maximum. And within that, we can negotiate that. Public comments, at this point, we have had 22. Eight agreed; 14 disagreed. Some of those, for example, said $15 is too high. We are not proposing to do that.
Why don't you make it $10? Well, that is what we are going to do. Some of them just said we have already paid for that battleship, we shouldn't pay anything. And the whole range of it. But eight agreed and 14 disagreed. We would, again as it says there, reduce fees for certain groups. We can negotiate those things. And our interest is not in keeping people off the Battleship, but to recover more of the costs of operating it.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: My question was similar. It had to do with children's groups that go there. Did I understand you to say that the local park person can set or adjust those fees?
MR. DABNEY: Downward. Yes, sir. He can make an adjustment to do that. And they do that on a regular basis, especially with school groups. You bet.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's a very broad range; $1 to $15.
MR. DABNEY: $1 to $15, but we — yes, sir. That is correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And is it ever less than $1 a person when you have a large group of school kids?
MR. DABNEY: At the Battleship, or anywhere?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, let's start with the Battleship.
MR. DABNEY: I am not sure exactly what it would be, in the $10. But we could be a dollar a person, or something like that. I can find out specifically what they normally would do.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It is more out of curiosity. The other question is, as Mary's presentation showed a few minutes ago, the various elements of Parks and Wildlife are contributing and growing revenue through user pay. But in many cases, we are unable to actually use that money, because it is not being appropriated by the Legislature.
MR. DABNEY: That is right.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Now, the additional $350,000 you estimate will come in from increasing the fee to visit the Battleship, do you feel comfortable you would be able to use that on the Battleship?
MR. DABNEY: Well, not necessarily. All of the parks, 128 sites that collect revenue, or that will be collecting revenue, help fund the entire system. We collect the equivalent of about half of what our operating budget is. About $32 million a year.
The $350,000 doesn't stay necessarily right there at the Battleship. It is in the whole system. But with the Legislature passing what we call here is the entrepreneurial rider that says that if we exceed the Comptroller's estimate, we can go back in and actually request the authority to spend this. It brings its own authority.
What happens to us is if we are bringing in more revenue, that means we have got more people coming and everything from toilet paper to utilities go up in cost. So there is a direct relationship to us making more money. It also costs us more to operate.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: But that was the rider that Mary referred to?
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. It would be.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: When was the last time we increased the fees at the Battleship?
MR. DABNEY: Two years ago, I think, sir?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: And it went from what to what?
MR. DABNEY: It went from five or six to seven.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: To seven. Okay.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: That's the adult rate?
MR. DABNEY: I am sorry, sir?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: That is the adult rate.
MR. DABNEY: The adult rate.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Over a certain age?
MR. DABNEY: It is $7 right now. And that is because it is capped at $7; they cannot go higher.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Walt, if we had a box or a method by which, if I accessed the Battleship and I said, I want to contribute $100 towards its future and rehabilitating and so forth, is that possible? Do we then, because of that designation, can we then say those funds were specifically earmarked and given for the Battleship, and as such, we could use them for that purpose, as compared as going into the General Fund?
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. I can take that contribution today and actually put it right in there. But each one of our sites has a donation account.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: $1,000 wasn't it?
MR. DABNEY: We account for that separately. And Bob, in the budget process, that money all goes back to the Battleship or San Jacinto.
MR. COOK: Commissioner, if a person makes a donation and specified, I want it to go to that park. And sometimes, they make the donation, and they say for this purpose.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: For example.
MR. COOK: Then it has to be used there. I can't be used elsewhere.
MR. DABNEY: We have a donation box.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: If the fee is as $7. And let's say, we went up to $8. And we said, however, you have an option of paying an extra $2, and it is donated specifically for the use of the Battleship. Is there anything wrong with that? Would that extra $2 then go for the Battleship?
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. It would.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. Because that would give the general public an option, those that were truly sensitive to it, to say you know what, I don't mind paying the $8 and by the way, here is an extra $4 for your fund. That is where I was leading to.
MR. DABNEY: And we have that right now. Every one of these sites has a donation box. That money goes right back to that site. And people do that on a regular basis.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Walt, I am still just a little concerned about the charge for kids. I am thinking of school kids. Would HISD for example, get a notice that says kid groups to the Battleship Texas could go on for $7 and that stands? Can that person change that, or does it go from group to group?
MR. DABNEY: We have a rate for school groups that come in there. And I will get you that.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: No, I am just saying, that rate is for all school groups?
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. It is not just Houston.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: So that that superintendent can't change that rate?
MR. DABNEY: If it is a school group rate, he would not change it. Right, sir.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Could he change it?
MR. DABNEY: Not to go up.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Okay. Because you mentioned earlier that the various park superintendents could adjust the rates.
MR. DABNEY: The only thing they adjust is to come down. They don't adjust anything up. If the rate to go on the Battleship is $10 for an adult, we can adjust down for groups other than that.
There would be an amount for kids under a certain age. Right now, if they show up at the Battleship, even at this $10 rate, and they have a state park annual pass, their whole group goes in for free. The annual pass that you have in your wallet?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: You mean, I could take 50 kids out there?
MR. DABNEY: No, sir. We have a definition of that. I think it is 15 in a 15-passenger van, as long as it is a non-commercial van, can go in with one annual pass. But the annual pass again is the best deal going out there. Because you can take up to 15 people in your family, show them the card, and instead of per person, you are into the site for the cost of that card. As many times as you want to go.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: But the school kids that go out from any one of the districts around there —
MR. DABNEY: It is very inexpensive.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Takes a bus full of kids.
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: And that person before they go will know that this is going to be so many — do you have any idea what the charge is, per kid? I am just curious.
MR. DABNEY: In some places, it has been 50 cents. In others, we have literally waived it. If they say we are not going to be able to bring them unless it is free, I mean, we will even do that. We would rather you come, than not. So we will work with you.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: You can, you do waive it occasionally?
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. We can.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. DABNEY: And I don't have to approve that. The park manager can determine that.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any other questions for Walt?
MR. DABNEY: I think that is it. Our recommendation is that as soon as the process is completed, that we would adopt this new fee range.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If there are no further questions or comments, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission agenda for public comment and action.
MR. DABNEY: Thank you, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thanks, Walt.
Advisory Committee rules. Ann Bright.
MS. BRIGHT: Good morning again. Again for the record, I am Ann Bright, General Counsel. I am going to be presenting the item regarding state agency advisory committees. The Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the Chairman to appoint advisory committees. Advisory committees are also addressed in the Texas Government Code. And the Government Code has some very specific requirements for advisory committees. We are required to adopt rules for each advisory committee. Each advisory committee is to be evaluated annually. Presiding officers are selected from among the members. Membership limit is 24. All advisory committees have a four-year span. And unless the life of an advisory committee is extended by rule, all of them will expire, September 1, 2005 — in a few days.
As part of this process, staff evaluated the committees that have been advising the Agency over the past few years. As we discussed, after our discussion in May, we published a proposed rule in the Texas Register. And we received some comments. I need to update this. We received 15 comments in favor and three opposed. Only one actually gave a reason, and the reason was not germane to this rule.
This is what staff is recommending. That all advisory committees and their membership expire on September 1, but that some of these committee be essentially reestablished. That 20 advisory committees be established to advise the Department and that four be established specifically to advise the Chairman and the Commission. As a change to what was proposed, we are recommending that the membership limit of all committees be extended to no more than 24.
We will not have to appoint 24 to every committee, but this will give us that flexibility. The Operation Game Thief and the San Jacinto Historical Advisory Committee are — both have statutory limits on their memberships, so those would continue. And just FYI, the San Jacinto Historical Advisory Board is actually appointed by the Governor. And the Operation Game Thief Committee is appointed by the Executive Director, pursuant to statute.
And these are the committees that we are recommending for the Wildlife Division or that involve wildlife. There is the Bighorn Sheep, Game Bird, Private Lands Advisory Committee, the Texas Quail Council, the White-Tail Deer Advisory Committee, and the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee. For coastal fisheries, there is the Artificial Reef Advisory Committee, the Blue Crab, the Oyster, and the Shrimp Advisory Committees. Inland Fisheries would have two advisory committee. Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Board and the Texas Rivers Conservation Advisory Board. State Park's would have three advisory committees, two of which are statutorily required. The San Jacinto Historical Advisory Board and the Texas Statewide Trails Advisory Committee, and then a third committee, the Historic Sites Advisory Committee. Law Enforcement would have two, both of which are statutorily required. The Game Warden Academy Advisory Committee and the Operation Game Thief Advisory Committee. Communications would have two. The Expo Advisory Committee, which is reappointed every year, and then the Outreach, Interpretation and Education Advisory Committee.
The advisory committees for the Commission would really cover the four big areas of resource issues. The State Parks Advisory Committee, the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, and the Land Resources Advisory Committee. And then, the Aquatic Resources Advisory Committee.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The Aquatic Resources is freshwater?
MS. BRIGHT: Aquatic would be freshwater. Yes, sir. And staff will be recommending the following motion. You can see it on the screen. This would involve a few changes from what was proposed, as I mentioned, to address the membership and advisory committees. And that concludes my presentation. I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: Just curious. Why 24? What is the significance of that number?
MS. BRIGHT: There is a statutory limit on the membership in the Government Code is 24.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: Okay.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I can assure you have never appointed that many, unless I have really got it in for the committee chair. Just a little background. I know Gene has done, I know you have worked hard on it, but Gene has really got the background on this one.
What I asked Gene to come up with — and I think he has done it here is a more cohesive system, so you don't have so many — I will describe them as ad hoc groups. So that there is some common membership there.
The related committees and advisory groups know what each other are doing. And then you have that central group that advises us on our major areas, state park, land and water and coastal. But they will be busy.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes, John.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I mean, I am not the Chair.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Just a second. Go ahead. His committee.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: How many currently are on the State Parks Advisory Committee?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, it is Sunsetted, so the new one hasn't been named yet. I let everything Sunset, and then, I am taking suggestions and names, John, if you have some folks. I will say this, that I hope the focus of the new State Parks Advisory Committee will be statewide, and not trying to represent a person's pet park. Because we need a big picture.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Good idea.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: How to solve our challenges.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That, in and of itself is a challenge. Any further questions? If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission agenda for public comment and action.
License Requirements for Marine Dealers, Distributors and Manufacturers. Al Campos.
MR. CAMPOS: Frances Stiles, Manager of Boat Titling and Registration. And myself, Alfonso Campos, Chief of Marine Enforcement. We'll be covering implementation of Senate Bill 489, which deals with marine licensees and also related marine issues related to Coast Guard vessel documentation.
The proposed rule addresses four issues. One is the suspension and revocation of marine licenses to address theft, fraud, illegal transfers of ownership of vessels and other items. Also, we wish to incorporate brokers, that would be marine brokers into our marine deal licensing requirements. We also address the registration of Coast Guard documented vessels in order to facilitate that process.
Also, we are addressing the showing, testing or demonstrating of vessels under a marine license, and that would be for business-related purposes. Senate Bill 489 gave the Department authority to suspend or revoke marine licenses. Under the proposed rule, this action could be taken or could be initiated for any violation or conviction of a Parks and Wildlife rule or related regulation.
A false statement on license application, indebtedness for taxes that are owed to the State or other fees, previous revocation, fraud or deception being used to obtain a license. This does require official notification by the Department to the licensee that we are initiating action. And any hearings would be referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Any questions on that issue? The next one — yes?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: John. Go ahead.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: If it does relate then, how does this relate to Homeland Security?
MR. CAMPOS: Probably not under the suspension and revocation of the Marine Dealer Business License. Not under the suspension and revocation. Probably not. The Homeland Security deals more with the recreational boating and keeping some of those boats out of those sensitive areas. And this issue here simply deals with taking their license or their ability to do business away for violating a Parks and Wildlife law. Violating the way they do business.
MS. STILES: The issues involving documentation of Coast Guard vessels relates more to the Homeland Security issue, which is one of our other items that we have.
MR. CAMPOS: Under the proposed rules, we would also add marine brokers to those people or those businesses that are required to obtain a marine license. This does, however, allow brokers or sales persons of a brokerage house to work under the license of the brokerage house.
It addresses the display of floating assets or the listing of floating assets in the absence of a show room. Because that would be specific to marine brokers. Also addresses the maintenance of service areas, which would not be applicable in the marine environment. For all other purposes, for practical purposes, a marine dealer or broker would be a marine dealer.
The next issue is addressing improvements to registering Coast Guard documented vessel. We intend to expedite the registration of new vessels by accepting a copy of an application for documentation, rather than what we presently require is proof of current documentation which can take up to 90 days or more. This is going to help us to identify all these vessels. A lot of them on the coast for any Homeland Security issues.
It also allows vessel tenders to display the registration of a mother ship. And this would only be those that fit the definition of a vessel tender. We also address the use of the marine dealers and manufacturer's license. And that would be typically called the Double-A numbers.
This came from a request of the boating industry to allow demo boats to be used in promotional business-related events, such as fishing tournaments, without acquiring separate registrations for each vessel. What we did was define special promotional events, which allows participation on a limited basis of 72 hours or less.
Under these events, the dealer would be required to obtain a validation card. One card would be issued to each marine dealer and additional licenses or additional validation cards would be available for $90 each. The licensee also would be under scrutiny to maintain a log indicating the use of these cards, and the participation in these special promotional events.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Excuse me.
MR. CAMPOS: Sir?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: By special promotional event, would that be like a fishing tournament, or having the youth go up there and go out on a boat.
MR. CAMPOS: We have defined it as one that offers, that has a prize offering. Like a fishing tournament would have. A kid fish event? No.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I guess what I am saying is, would you be able to accomplish the use of a promotional boat for a youth-related event?
MR. CAMPOS: By all means, we would welcome that. The dealers to bring some new boats? Yes, that would be great. Yes. We are addressing the full scale of use in the tournaments; mostly fishing tournaments.
We did receive public comments. Ten agreed, three disagreed and not mentioning any specific items on the disagreement. And then on five, we did discuss some modifications/clarifications. Some of the groups we have been working with include the Boating Trades Association of Texas, and the Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers' Associations.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Did either of those or both make sensible comments that you took on board?
MR. CAMPOS: For example, one was clarifying the broker issue. They didn't want to license each individual broker. And we agreed with that. They can work under the license of a brokerage house. And the boating trades worked with us considerably on the use of that number for promotional purposes.
MS. STILES: Between these two associations, we have had multiple conversations. Because we are looking for what works for the agency as well as what works for the industries.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Customer friendly. Is there any further questions or discussions? If not, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
License proof of residency. David?
MR. SINCLAIR: Mr. Chairman and members, I am David Sinclair, Chief of Wildlife Enforcement. This morning, I will be presenting a proposal for a proof of residency. Until now, there has been no established residency requirements other than the statutory requirements that someone residing here in the State for six months.
Whenever we get those calls, and a lot of officers get those. A lot of the game wardens get them. What do I need to show that I have been here six months. And there has been no requirements up until now. It is just a variety of answers, depending on who you talk to, the answer that you would get.
Authored by Representative Ray Allen and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Ambrister, House Bill 1636 authorizes the Commission to prescribe by rule the criteria necessary to approve residency for the purpose of obtaining a license or a permit issued by the Department. As I mentioned before, someone has to reside here continuously for six months to become a Texas resident.
The proposed rule sets forth the documentation except for proving the six-month requirement. As I go through these acceptable documentation items, keep this in mind. That we have had some suggested changes, and I will go over those changes at a later slide. There are 11 of these documents, and it can be any four of the 11 is the proposal.
A current property tax statement, indicating a Texas homestead. A Texas drivers' license, not less than six months old. A previous six months utility bills from a single utility showing a Texas address. Previous six months' paycheck receipts showing a Texas address. Texas voter registration certificate not less than six months old. The most recent tax return showing a Texas address. Vehicle registration showing a Texas address, not less than six months old. Military record indicating home of record in Texas and military record indicating duty station in Texas for the previous six months. A U.S. passport showing a Texas address, or a statement from a parole board or probation officer.
Additionally, persons under the age of 25 and living in another state for educational purposes would be considered Texas residents, if they can provide a notarized statement attesting that the person is a dependent of a Texas resident. And they possess an non-resident tuition received from another state.
Additionally, a person who claims residency in any other state for any purpose is not a Texas resident for the purposes of obtaining a resident license or permit from the Department, except for active military. And I would tell you that the exception for the active military is a suggested change. That was not in the original proposal.
Recommended changes, as I mentioned before, four of the 11. We are suggesting that that be three of eight. The military documentation requirements should stand alone. A military record indicating a home of record in Texas or a military record indicating duty of station in Texas for the previous six months. Either one of those would be used to qualify someone that is active military.
Also, staff is suggesting that we eliminate the passport requirement. That is a document that is valid for ten years, and people may or may not change the address on it. Applicability. I want to make sure everybody is quite clear that this rule will not be used as a point-of-sale to screen constituents. It will be just like it always has been. Whenever they come in, they will provide generally, a drivers' license, because that can be swiped in the POS machine. And it gathers that information. Also, the Social Security number which is required by both state and federal law would be requested at that time.
But not all of the documents that I have gone over. They wouldn't have to be carrying those with them. The same would apply when they are in the field, during an activity. Hunting or fishing. They are not going to have to have all of those documents. However, statute requires that someone that hunts or fishes has to have a drivers' license or an ID card on their person while hunting. So we would be asking for those.
Basically, this rule provides for information to the constituents, and it will help us follow up on prosecutions. And that is my presentation. There were public comments, a total of 30. Twenty-seven agreed; three disagreed. No justifications on the disagreements. I would answer questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I have one.
MR. CAMPOS: Okay.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: On the utility bills, you bracketed from a single utility. And what is your thinking on that? What difference would it make if it multiple or utilities, if they were all within the State of Texas?
MR. SINCLAIR: Well, I guess the thinking there was, they could be — I am not for sure exactly what the reason was. Probably, I would just guess you might have a couple of months of one bill. You move. It wouldn't be a continuous six months. Although we could certainly change that to make it a variety.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: As long as they were moving within the State of Texas, they might well have different utility providers. I am not sure why that would be a requirement that they stayed in a given residence or a given utility service area for the six months, as long as it is within the State. Other than that —
MR. SINCLAIR: If there is not a valid reason, and that is your suggestion, we can certainly make that change. That is not a substantive change. I think we can ask.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: No, it is a little bit on the nitpicking side.
MR. SINCLAIR: Caught me off guard, by the way.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: People move. They do.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any further questions or comments?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: My only comment was on the college students. I guess if you don't get a degree by 25, that's it, kind of a deal. But I mean theoretically, someone that would go to undergraduate school, would go to graduate school, perhaps law school or medical school, probably be 26 or 27.
MR. SINCLAIR: Anyhow, the 25 is dealing with a dependent as far as the IRS. I think that is the breaking point.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. I support that.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Motivate them. If you get out by 25 —
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any parole board officers attesting to residency?
MR. SINCLAIR: Well, we do have a lot of calls from convicted felons, asking about the use of firearms and what they can do. Can they buy a hunting license. So they will be —
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You can keep those new names in a separate file, I hope.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you very much. If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
Is there any other business to come before the Commission for this committee?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Pass the gavel.
(Whereupon, at 10:15 a.m. the meeting was adjourned.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Finance Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: August 25, 2005
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 56, 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.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731