(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)
WDFW originally looked at 12 to 15 percent increase…
According to the new WDFW budget, a five percent fee increase could be imposed on hunters and fishers and it could have been a lot more, reports The Spokesman-Review.
The department staff had first asked the WDFW commission for a 12 to 15 percent increase on all license costs. This comes as the agency is looking at a $30 million budget shortfall. To fully fund the department, WDFW policy director Nate Pamplin said $60 million is needed.
During a meeting on Friday, the WDFW commission had reservations about the hike and didn’t approve the 12 to 15 percent increase, deciding to make adjustments and instead decided to pull more from the state general fund to make up the $30 million gap.
WDFW staff were asking for a budget including a hike in license fees that would have funded two-thirds of the $60 million needed from the state general fund and the remaining one-third from license fees.
The shortfall comes after general fund taxes and recreational license sales have not kept up with costs. There was a one-time funding fix for the department in 2017 voted on by the state legislature but it expires in 2019. WDFW also had several cuts from the Great Recession.
The commission approved of a bill request to give themselves the authority to adjust licenses fees to deal with yearly inflation.