Tuesday, February 22, 2005
A legislative subcommittee's proposal could phase in a Montana resident hunting and fishing license fee increase over two years beginning in 2006.
If approved by the Montana Legislature, the proposal from the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks' subcommittee would result in the first general increase for resident hunters and anglers in more than 10 years.
An increase in nonresident fishing and hunting fees was approved in 2001 and helped to delay a resident fee increase by boosting FWP revenues by about $4 million a year. The legislatively approved nonresident-fee increase ensured funding through 2007, allowing FWP to continue to carry out existing responsibilities.
Projections show that by 2009, however, FWP license revenue will be $3 million less than needed to fund existing programs. By 2011 the budget shortfall would grow to $14.5 million.
House Bill 172, requested by FWP, proposes resident fee increases that would go into effect in 2006. The subcommittee’s counter proposal could boost FWP revenues by $3.5 million to $4.1 million a year, depending on how the final proposal is presented, and could provide enough new funding to balance the budget, maintain the current level of services, and allow for growth to cover inflation and new responsibilities through 2007 or 2011, officials said.
The proposal also contains discounts for the purchase of multiple (sportsman's) licenses and for licenses for youth, seniors and persons with disabilities.
The full House Fish, Wildlife and Parks committee will take action on the proposal on March 8. Comments on the subcommittee’s proposal can be submitted to FWP at http://fwp.state.mt.us/publicnotices/notice_763.aspx or to your local legislator.