AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission says their operating costs have gone up 6 percent. So the Commission has proposed a 5 percent across-the-board increase. The Commission is set to vote on it in May.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says the fee increase is necessary to address critical needs.
"As you know license fees were last increased in 2004 and prior to that there had been no increase in eight years," Gene McCarty, TPWD’s deputy executive director for administration, told commissioners. "Since that time, our operational costs have increased an average of 6.1 percent, while our fund balances continue to dwindle."
McCarty said the department initially considered a 10-15 percent increase, but scaled back due to the current economic downturn.
"Instead we are proposing a very slight increase of 5 percent rolled up to the next dollar," he explained. "This fee increase will not create new programs or services. The last fee increase in 2004 was just enough to maintain current levels of service. This increase will do the same. "
Under the proposed increase, hunting licenses would go from the current price of $23 to $25, while the popular Super Combo all-inclusive license would increase from $64 to $68. Fishing packages would increase by $2. McCarty noted the cost for all of the special endorsement stamps would not go up.
The vast majority of boat owners in Texas would also see only a small increase in boat registration and titling fees under the proposal. Biennial boat registration for vessels less than 16 feet in length would increase from $30 to $32 and those in the 16-26 foot range would go from $50 to $53.
Two exceptions pertain to larger craft. Those vessels 26-40 feet in length would increase by $40 and 40-foot-plus vessels would go up by $110. These larger increases are necessary because the department has been undercharging for these larger boats for many years in comparison with smaller boats, especially when considering the fee as a percentage of boat size and value.
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