When you haven’t had a raise in 13 years and expenses continue to go up, something has to give.
To balance the bottom line, spending has to be trimmed, or new money must to be found and added to that side of the ledger. Basic budgeting.
Such has been the case with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which wisely determined not to spend more than it takes in.
The commission is supported greatly by angler and boater monies. The rub is that vital license fees have been stalled at 2005 levels.
The good news is, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 30 that would give the commission authority to raise the basic license fee by about $6. The additional funds would just about cover the commission’s pension and health care responsibilities.
Sadly, like massive ice plates jammed on the mighty Susquehanna, SB30 has hit a snag. The state House has been unwilling to move the measure out of committee.
Without additional revenue, the commission must cut costs and has been doing so. Staff has been reduced through attrition, infrastructure projects have been put on hold.
It was pretty clear to me last summer that SB30 wasn’t going anywhere, and so I was among the majority of commissioners voting in September to authorize Executive Director John Arway to make $2 million in spending cuts, effective this July.
On the cutting block may be a few hatcheries and support for the co-operative nursery program.
The Shippensburg Fly Fishing Club, Yellow Breeches Anglers & Conservation Club and Mechanicsburg Sportsmen Association operate trout nurseries in Cumberland County.
The Clarence Rider Memorial nursery, sponsored by Mechanicsburg Sportsmen, was started in 1974 and has a 200-foot raceway and six pens. Manager Dave Eakin says they raise 8,500-9,000 trout each year.
“We get around 6,500 trout from the Fish and Boat Commission. All species (brook, brown, rainbow, golden),” Eakin said. “We also buy 1,200 trout every year to stock our club’s pond. We also keep around 400 trout as holdovers every year.”
The co-op nursery program is important in how it complements the number of fish produced and released for anglers.
The commission presented its own ray of hope at the quarterly meeting last week. We got a first look at small steps that could produce needed revenue, and offset some of the budget cuts, as we wait for the next license fee increase.
There are measures the commission can take on its own that do not require legislative action.
Do we sell ad space in the commission magazine, adjust the subscription rate, or ask a small charge for the summary book? What is the potential for new voluntary musky and wild trout permits? Do we ask a little more for snapping turtle, firewood cutting and venomous snake permits?
Do we ask more for use permits for unpowered boats?
Also up for discussion is that all Senior Lifetime License holders be required to purchase a trout permit. This idea will receive special care and discussion by the board, even though such a change would produce significant revenue. Those who purchased lifetime licenses before 2015 did so knowing they would not be required to purchase a trout permit.
I may have a real appetite for revenue ideas, but I’m not especially ready to bite into the “agreement” already in place with lifetime license holders.
Discussion is ahead about what new revenue ideas might work and what prices anglers and boaters would pay. Commissioners are mindful that any changes in costs should not create a great burden.
While these permit adjustments and new ideas will hopefully provide funding to offset some cuts, it will not approach the level of increase provided by legislative efforts like Senate Bill 30.
Continued rising costs will outpace what few revenue enhancements the commission is willing and able to do on its own. Without a license increase, more and maybe deeper cuts could be in the future.
I hope that’s not the case.
Man up, again!
(The following message is for entertainment purposes only).
If you picked the Patriots to beat the Falcons in the last Super Bowl, history was on your side. I told you so.
If the wild trend found in my more than 50 years of research continues, New England will win again Sunday. This formula for picking the winner has a 75 percent success rate.
Since the first championship game between the Packers and Chiefs, man has relentlessly inflicted his best onto beast.
Teams with manly monikers — Steelers (6), Cowboys (5), Giants (4), Patriots (5) and Raiders (3), have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy a whopping 38 of 51 times.
Teams named for animals are a paltry 10-23. One of those victories was the stacked Colts win over the Bears. Admittedly, birds of prey, the Ravens and Seahawks, did in fact win two in a row.
For the most part, predators are pussycats, which includes the Panthers, with an abysmal 4-8 record. Feathered teams are also 4-8.
Equestrians aren’t much better. The Broncos are 4-5.
Of the four teams to never get to the Super Bowl, it’s a 2-2 split, Browns and Texans, Jaguars and Lions.
The Vikings and Bills each lost all four Super Bowls they played in, balancing the scale of ineptitude. Otherwise, the manly side of the docket would be overwhelming.
The data is infallible.
So the trend says the Eagles will go down in Super LII, as the Patriots man-up.
This isn’t how I’d like to see the game go down.
Sorry, Eagles fans. It’s a lot to ask that your team beat these odds, maybe the best coach and second-best quarterback of all time, and the referees.
Send your wild thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Arrows2010.