Monday, December 5, 2011

Wildlife Division Fiscal Status In Fine Shape

While fisheries management carves out a large slice of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s fiscal pie the state’s hunters still contribute more apples.

For Fiscal Year 2011 - which ran July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 - the Wildlife Division receipts from fishing license sales totaled $14.04 million while sales of general hunting licenses was worth $10.88 million.

However, in many instances hunters are required to purchase a special permit of one form or another in order to pursue select game. That is unlike fishing where anglers need only to buy a single license in order to catch everything from bullheads to walleye.

Besides the sales of general hunting licenses the Wildlife Division collected another $10.51 million from the sale of the state’s various deer tags, $2.47 million from the sale of both spring and fall turkey tags, and $341,186 for revenue from sales of the state waterfowl hunting stamp, which is required of both adult duck and goose hunters.

Along with all of these revenue sources was an important $12.23 million from the federal government’s aid to restoration projects program. This kitty supplies dollars for both fish and game management projects.

The state is reimbursed money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for performing this work, the income derived from special excise taxes on various kinds of shooting, hunting, archery and fishing gear.

Another $2.21 million was collected from that portion of the state motor fuel tax as it relates to boating/fishing activity, $933,136 from sales of the voluntary wildlife diversity and endangered species fund program, and $3.3 million from other sources.

Money collected from fish and wildlife fines amounted to only one percent of the agency’s revenue stream; or $374,186.

On the expenditure side the agency spent $11.81 million for wildlife management projects, $11,046,659 for fisheries management work, $9.79 million for operating the Wildlife Division’s five district offices, $7.6 million in capital expenses, $7.3 million for wildlife officer pay and benefits, $6.2 million for law enforcement, $1.1 million for administration, and $4.1 for information and education.

Pull everything together and for fiscal 2011 and the Wildlife Division collected $56.3 million in revenue but spent $59.02 million in expenditures.

And while it looks like the Wildlife Division is operating with a deficit it really isn’t, says the agency’s fiscal administrator, Susan Howard.

“This all has something to do with how we get our federal reimbursement,” Howard said. “In Fiscal 2012 we’ll actually get $3.2 million that we thought we were going to get in Fiscal 2011.”

By far the greatest expense for the Wildlife Division goes for employee wages, salaries and benefits. These items account for between 55 and 60 percent of the Wildlife Division’s annual expenditures and are spread throughout the entire budgeting mechanism, Howard said.

Asked if such money movement complicates book keeping, Howard said “not really,” though she would like to see the application of just one annual accounting system.

Presently the Wildlife Division is forced to work with three different “calendars:” the state’s fiscal year, the actual calendar year as well as the license sales year, each of which start and end at different times.

“That would help,” Howard said.

But the agency’s accounting and management profile is such that the on-going process allows for mid-course corrections to accommodate both cash flow as well as expenses, Howard explained.

“That’s the way we’ve been doing things, at least ever since I’ve been here,” Howard said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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