HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU), — The State Game Commission has been pushing for more control over their hunting license fees as well as for an increase in those fees. But today, the Auditor General said that is not a decision he would recommend.
The Commission has said it needs to raise those hunting license fees but Eugene DePasquale says his 136-page audit tells a different story. A story of a Commission that needs to figure out how to better manage its current finances.
According to Thursday’s audit, the Game fund balance is currently at almost $73 million. It also found an additional 6.5 million in escrow accounts.
“What was even more shocking to me, is that until my audit, the Commission’s Chief Financial Officer didn’t even have knowledge of the specific accounts,” Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.
Financial management problems don’t end there. The Commission also earns millions from leasing land to oil and gas producers, but according to the audit, it relies on those companies to simply tell them how much they owe them without verification.
“This creates the risk of lost revenue. But, the accounting was so poor, that we were not able to determine if the Commission was receiving money that was due,” DePasquale said.
The Game Commission is not funded by the General Fund and DePasquale wants to keep it that way. But he is calling for independent oversight. And as for an increase in hunting license fees…
“I would be hard-pressed to support any type of fee increases until I was confident that all of these funds were better managed, and that there was a real game plan for that $73 million,” DePasquale said.
And in a response, the Game Commission today said some of the 40 recommendations made by the Auditor General have already been implemented, and they agree to work toward implementing nearly all of the others.
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