Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ODNR takes unnatural hit from Kasich's propsedGRF budget

The Kasich Administration has taken a nuclear bomb rather than a scalpel to the proposed 2012-2013 fiscal General Revenue Fund Operating Budget for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Overall, the department’s General Revenue budget was slashed 30.1 percent from Fiscal 2011 to Fiscal 2012 though the proposal does indicate increased spending by 26.6 percent in Fiscal 2013.

Dollar wise, this means a decrease from $102.1 million actual in Fiscal 2011 to (proposed) $71.4 million in Fiscal 2012 and (proposed) $90.4 million in Fiscal 2013.

As for specifics, The Division of Parks and Recreation will see its General Revenue Fund allocation decline 8-percent to $30.3 million and a virtual total elimination of all funding for Natural Areas and Preserves from $215,000 in actual Fiscal 2011.

State park operations will grow by 1.3 percent in Fiscal 2012, based on the Kasich Administration’s book-keeping.

All Natural Resources publications have been line-itemed out of existence also.

Wildlife, too, takes a hit. Proposed is a 10-percent decline in the General Revenue Fund’s Central Support to the agency, down to $1.8 million and a 100-percent loss of so-called “Department Projects” from $81,311 in actual Fiscal 2011 to nothing proposed in either Fiscal 2012 or Fiscal 2013.

There is likewise an 100-percent shut-off of wildlife habitat funding from $1.42 million to nothing.

The bottom line for Wildlife with all funds is a proposed decline of 13.5 percent for Fiscal 2012 and another 1.6 percent decline in (proposed) Fiscal 2013.

Eliminated as well are Urban Forestry grants within the Forestry Division.
Waterways Safety grants are administered by the Ohio Division of Watercraft. Under Kasich’s proposal these grants would shrink by 13 percent.

Overall, the Watercraft Division’s GRF budget would fall from $21.18 million to $19.26 million in (proposed) Fiscal 2012 and drop again to $18.77 million in (proposed) Fiscal 2013.

Untouched within the Watercraft Division would be the proposed $576,153 in Marine Patrol grants for Fiscal 2012 and also for Fiscal 2013.

“I look forward to working with the governor to protect our sportsmen and our state parks,” said state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township. “Taxpayers have invested a lot of dollars in their parks and wildlife areas and we want to ensure that these facilities are there to enjoy.”

This story will be edited and updated as further information becomes available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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