Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 1 : Summer 2009 - Page 67

Increase in Fees: Still a Wicked Good Deal by Regis Trembly I’ve been thinking a lot about what I spend my money on these days. An economic crisis can make that happen. I think about and watch every penny I spend. So, when Governor Baldacci included a license fee increase in his budget, my first reaction was, “Oh my, this is going to upset a lot of people.” At the time of this writing, I have no idea whether a license increase will actually occur. But, I started to think about recreational and entertainment pursuits we spend money on. My first thoughts were on newspaper reports of how much the Yankees were going to pay free-agent Mark Teixeira. Teixeira toyed with the Red Sox before signing on with the Yankees for $22.5 million a year for eight years. The total Red Sox payroll for 2008 was $133.3 million. I thought, “In a time of world-wide recession, this doesn’t make sense.” By comparison, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife needs approximately $37 Million a year to protect and preserve the natural resources, the lifeblood of our economy. The impact of hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, boating, snowmobiling, ATV riding, and whitewater rafting, all industries the Department has a major hand in, have a combined $2.4 Billion impact on the economy. That’s an incredible return on the investment that far exceeds the RTI of the Red Sox and Yankees combined! Compared to the Sox and Yankees, IF&W is a “wicked good deal for Maine.” - a family of four for 2 days and 2 nights at Disneyworld $2,000 - dinner and drinks for a couple - $60 and $75 - dinner for a family of four at Applebee’s - $60 - a movie for a family of four - $50. - one day skiing - $135 per person with a lift ticket, food, and ski rental - one composite hockey stick $190 - a pair of hockey skates - $500 Here’s what a license fee increase of, say, $9 dollars would mean for people who hunt and fish. In 2009 a combination hunting and fishing license cost $38.00 plus a $2.00 agent fee. In other words, for a person to be in the outdoors to hunt and fish 365 days costs 11 cents per day! ($40/365). After a fee increase of $9.00, it would still cost less than 14 cents per day. The value of the opportunity and experience far exceeds this modest cost. A $9.00 fee increase is still less than a pack of cigarettes ($10), two six packs of the least expensive brew ($13), and a pound of coffee ($10). Since the last license fee increase in 2004, everything else from milk and eggs to clothes and cars has steadily gone up. Gas went from $1.25 to more than $4 a gallon in just one year. If the Maine