Pa. (Feb. 19) – Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Executive
Director John Arway formally presented the agency’s 2012 Annual Report
to the House Game and Fisheries Committee today. In his remarks, Arway
reiterated that one of the agency’s top goals is to identify alternative
funding sources in order to sustain the agency.
the Commission is an independent, administrative agency of state
government and we often advocate the user pay, user benefit model, we
are not immune from the debt challenges that lie ahead of us,” Arway
said. “All state agencies have been told that we should prepare to
absorb increases in employee pension and medical costs in the near
future. Combine these costs with increases in employee wages and
salaries, rising operating costs, and a flat or declining customer base,
and we could have our own fiscal cliff to contend with if we don’t
immediately live up to our fiduciary responsibilities.”
explained that the agency must reallocate more than $9 million of
revenue over the next four years and every year thereafter to cover the
projected costs. Approximately $6.7 million is needed for future
employee health care and retirement benefits, and $2.3 million is needed
for infrastructure needs, such as maintenance and repairs at remaining
hatcheries, other facilities, and boating access areas.
PFBC in January took the first steps in its long-term plan to reduce
costs by announcing that two hatcheries would be closed by the end of
2014 – Bellefonte in Centre County and Oswayo in Potter County –
resulting in an annual savings of approximately $2 million.
Additionally, the PFBC said it would not run a new class of waterways
conservation officers. These cuts amount to about $3 million of the $9
million total that must be saved.
other $6 million will need to come from the rest of the agency’s
operations, and all options for reducing spending will be on the table,”
the PFBC’s other hatcheries are at capacity, the trout lost from the
Oswayo and Bellefonte hatcheries will not be replaced by other
hatcheries. However, Arway explained that stocking will continue in the
counties surrounding and previously stocked by these two hatcheries.
last year, the PFBC started to implement stocking changes across the
state as part of a comprehensive plan to improve the efficiency and
reduce costs of our stocked trout program,” he said. “These changes
preceded the analysis that led to the Oswayo and Bellefonte decisions.
We developed a strategic approach to guide future program changes,
including both additions and reductions.”
anglers, the changes mean that some streams will receive fewer trout
and others will be dropped from the stocking lists. These will be ones
that have low angler use or have residency problems with trout.
securing the PFBC’s financial future is a top priority, Arway said the
agency remains committed to fulfilling other strategic goals, including
protecting and conserving aquatic resources and habitats, including the
of the highest profile resource issues in 2012 was the ongoing state of
decline of the smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River,” Arway said.
“Once considered a world-class bass fishery, the Susquehanna River
continued to be plagued with disease in 2012 that has been killing young
smallmouth bass for almost a decade and has most recently resulted in
unsightly lesions and open sores on adult bass.”
2012, the Commission publicly made the case that the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) needs to acknowledge the facts and add
the river to the federal list of impaired waters,” he added. “Adding
the Susquehanna River to the list as a ‘high priority’ impaired water
would trigger a two-year timeline under federal Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) regulations for DEP to develop a comprehensive plan to
clean up the river.”
“Sadly, the DEP did not list the Susquehanna River as an impaired waterway in its January report,” Arway added.
noted that the plan does not become final until approved by the EPA and
said that the PFBC was asking members of Congress within the
Susquehanna Watershed to contact the EPA and demand that a plan is put
in place to fix the Susquehanna River.
concluded his testimony by sharing with legislators various options the
PFBC is examining as ways to raise revenue. He continued to advocate
for a consumptive use and degradation of water fee as one of the most
sustainable sources of long-term funding, with the revenue being
reinvested in conservation programs like those of the PFBC. He also
raised the possibility of the PFBC receiving funding from any proposal
which would uncap the oil company franchise tax.
on the will of the committee members and others in the legislature to
allocate a portion of an uncapped oil company franchise tax, this could
present a multi-million dollar opportunity for sustaining programs for
our waterways and spurring reinvestments in your districts,” he said.
“We welcome the chance to be a part of the conversation this spring.”
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