2018-19 Fee Increases
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Why is Kentucky Fish & Wildlife increasing user fees for fishing, hunting and boating?
There are several reasons why fee increases are necessary at this time:
- KDFWR operates on user fees, not state taxes. Unlike other agencies that receive state tax revenues (such as sales tax or property tax money), KDFWR’s programs are paid for by licenses and related fees. If we don’t receive adequate funding from user fees, we can’t operate the many programs Kentuckians now enjoy, ranging from fish stocking in public waters, to free public boat ramps, to high quality hunting opportunities, to Conservation Officers to protect the Commonwealth’s resources. KDFWR does not operate on deficits or debts, so our expenses have to be covered by current revenues from user fees, much like a business.
- License and boat registration prices are only increased periodically, not every year. Despite functioning like a business in many ways, we do not raise fees every year even a small amount like most businesses do. KDFWR has to undertake a lengthy process involving the public and the state legislature to increase fees. We comprehensively review prices about every 5 years, but because of careful spending, cutting costs wherever possible, and pursuing other funding sources, we sometimes are able to delay fee increases. Through these measures, we have been able to postpone these increases over 10 years for many fees.
- Because of rising costs for materials and services, the Department must increase fees to keep pace with routine costs ranging from fish food to concrete. The infographic on page 3 below helps to illustrate how costs have steadily risen in the last 10 years. Without fee increases, we simply would not be able to continue the outstanding conservation and recreation programs that Kentuckians want.
- Some important fish and wildlife programs require additional support. Our Youth Conservation Camps and Salato Wildlife Education Center reach over 50,000 people per year, many of whom do not fish, hunt, or own boats. These outreach programs are important for maintaining public support for our traditions, and building public appreciation for the benefits made possible by fish and wildlife and those who pay to conserve them in Kentucky. We currently enjoy strong public support of legal, sustainable fishing and hunting. This is not the case in all states. We all want to ensure this continues into the future. These important programs do charge reasonable fees from participants, but they simply cannot cover all costs of operation.
Selling adult licenses for $5 is no longer sustainable. Although KDFWR has put off raising Senior and Disabled license prices for nearly two decades, the large and growing proportion of license customers (about 120,000 total) in this group now requires a modest increase to these fees. Although recent surveys of Senior and Disabled license customers indicated willingness among many to pay as much as $20, the price for these licenses was set at just $12 to keep the license price as low as possible. The new price for these licenses is still discounted 87% off the equivalent Sportsman’s License and substantially lower than standard licenses (nearly 50% off the price of standard Fishing, 55% off Hunting and over 70% off the Combo Fishing/Hunting).
When were prices last increased?
- Standard resident licenses – 11 years ago (2007)
- Senior and Disabled licenses – 19 years ago (1999)
- Boat registrations – 16 years ago (2002)
When do the new prices take effect?
New prices are effective March 1, 2018, the first day of the new license year. Until then, customers may purchase 2018-19 licenses at 2017 prices.
Which fees are affected and what are the new prices?
Fishing & Hunting Licenses
||Price as of March 1
|Boat Size / Motor Type
||Price as of March 1
|Under 16 feet
|Over 26-40 feet
|Over 40 feet
Why are nonresident prices not going up?
Most nonresident fees were increased in 2014. KDFWR is currently reviewing nonresident fees again for updates based on the current resident price increases and other relevant factors.