Saturday, September 30, 2017

Fish & Boat Commission Shares Financial Condition With Senate, House Urging Action On License Fee Bill

John Arway, Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission, wrote to members of the Senate and House Friday to share information about the fiscal health of his agency.  
He wrote in the wake of action by the Commission’s board earlier in the week to potentially close fish hatcheries and limit fish stocking if action is not taken on a license fee bill or another revenue stream.
The text of the letter follows--
Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commissioners took a bold step to ensure the future fiscal health of our agency.  While the media has widely reported the vote they took on Monday in Erie, some of the facts have been misinterpreted.      
The Board authorized me as Executive Director to make up to $2 million in cuts for the 2018-19 fiscal year if the agency does not receive additional revenues to help meet pension and health care obligations.  
There are no immediate plans to close hatcheries or cancel trout stockings, but the Board has entrusted me to make whatever cuts might be necessary if we enter the next fiscal year without a revenue increase.
My preference continues to be to keep all hatcheries open, stock the fish that our customers have come to expect, and address ailing infrastructure, but I am also prepared to make difficult decisions in the best long-term interests of the agency.  
If the House acts on Senate Bill 30 or another revenue stream this legislative session, we will be able to maintain the goods and services that drive Pennsylvania’s incredible fishing and boating heritage and countless local economies.             
The attached paper entitled Fiscal Responsibility succinctly explains our situation and the need for action.  I am sending it to all members of the House and Senate and to sportsmen’s groups across the Commonwealth to give everyone a common frame of reference.
If you have any questions about the attached paper, the Board’s decision, or our plans moving forward, I would welcome the chance to talk with you in person or over the phone at your convenience.
We continue to regard the legislature as a valuable partner in helping us fulfill our mission of protecting, conserving, and enhancing our Commonwealth's aquatic resources to provide fishing and boating recreational opportunities.  
This continues to be an important part of our Commonwealth's heritage as well as our economy.
Thank you for understanding the situation we are in and for any assistance or suggestions you could offer for helping to get out of it so we can continue to serve our common constituents.     
John A. Arway
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Click Here for a copy of the attachment referred to in this letter.
[Note: The House Game and Fisheries Committee had a meeting scheduled on the bill for Tuesday, but it was canceled.]
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