What?! A Fee Lock?
Saturday, March 8, 2014
A. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game receives no tax money from the State’s general fund for wildlife management and relies heavily on hunters and anglers by purchasing hunting/fishing/trapping licenses, tags, and permits. Forty percent of Fish and Game’s annual budget is from license sales and pays for things such as fish hatchery operation and trout stocking, big game aerial surveys and research, habitat management and enforcement programs, and as mandated “match” dollars for federal Wildlife and Sport-fish Restoration funds dedicated to fund Fish and Game’s fish and wildlife management and access programs. In recent years Fish and Game’s license-based revenue has dropped below the level needed to fund its legislatively approved programs. Because Fish and Game must operate on a balanced budget, spending on programs and services has been reduced to stay in line with reduced revenue.
A. One in 2 adult Idahoans went fishing during the last two years and 1 in 3 went hunting. Interestingly, a relatively small proportion of Idaho’s hunters and anglers get in the field or on the water every year. Fish and Game would like to keep prices low, and if more Idahoans purchased their licenses every year then the lower prices can be. To accomplish this, Fish and Game is proposing to raise the fees for Idaho residents in 2015 BUT provide a “fee lock” at the old price to any citizen who held an annual fishing, hunting, or trapping license in 2014. The fee lock will continue for those who purchase an annual license every year. Only those who do not buy an annual license in 2014 and annually thereafter, would actually pay the increased price. All licenses, tags and permits would be eligible for the 2014 “fee lock”. Idahoans would be able to maintain their “fee lock” by continuing to purchase any annual license; regardless of the one they held in the previous year.
The Fish and Game Commission may also consider using the requested discount authority to offer hunters and anglers the opportunity to receive a discount for the purchase of multiple tags or permits. This would be similar to the “Sportsman’s Pack” that currently packages a fixed combination of items and sells it at a considerable discount compared to the price for each individual item. New package discounts could be offered as an alternative to the Sportsman’s Pack and would allow a hunter or angler the flexibility to pick what they want to put in their custom package from a list of items including the appropriate season license and receive a flat rate discount. This discount would be in addition to the “fee lock” discount or could be applied to the new 2015 prices for sporadic buyers.
A. In recent years, Fish and Game’s license fee revenue has fallen below the level needed to fund its legislatively approved budget for existing programs. Because Fish and Game must operate on a balanced budget, spending on programs and services has been reduced to stay in line with reduced revenue. For instance, in recent years vacant positions have been held open for a minimum of six months, positions have been consolidated, and the agency has reduced the number of hatcheries producing catchable trout, in order cut costs. But inflation and increasing operational costs necessary to deliver professional fish and wildlife management in Idaho have also gone up, acting to further erode the buying power of Fish and Game’s reduced revenue stream.
A. No. Only the Idaho legislature can increase license, tag, and permit fees. The Commission would only have the authority to establish discounts from the legislatively approved fee structure.
A. We were asked by legislators, the Commission, and sporting groups to explore new methods, to increase revenue outside the standard across the board fee increase. This approach is unique to Idaho in that it that offers all Idaho hunters and anglers an opportunity to lock-in 2014 license fees. The Commission believes that the fee lock will provide an incentive for more hunters and anglers to buy their license every year. The hope is that if more people buy licenses every year, enough license revenue will be generated to meet the budget approved by the legislature. We’ve heard loud and clear from Idaho families who hunt and fish together they can’t afford to pay more for licenses and tags to hunt and fish. This proposal freezes the cost for families that buy licenses and hunt/fish every year.
We are also responding to hunters and anglers request to pick their own package of tags and permits, and get a discount on the price.
A. Because it is a new and untested concept, the Fish and Game Commission is proposing to review its effectiveness after 3 to 5 years. If the program is successful, the Commission will consider extending it further into the future.
A. A large portion of people in Idaho don’t hunt or fish, but they value fish and wildlife and support professional management and conservation. Many people, including hunters and anglers, are simply un-aware that fishing and hunting license fees are the mechanism for them to contribute to important management, conservation and access programs. These programs are part of what makes Idaho such a great place to live and recreate.
A. In 2009, nonresident license and tag fees were increased significantly. Another nonresident fee increase at this time could price Idaho out of the market, particularly for nonresident hunters causing a significant impact to the State’s economy particularly in rural Idaho.