Thursday, May 20, 2010

GaPA Thursday

End of Session Report

With much of this year’s legislative session focusing on revenue shortfalls and competing needs,GaPA chose to monitor budget requests and certain bills with relativity to historic preservation operations. To accomplish this, GaPA maintained a low profile and relied heavily on staff from the Department of Natural Resources to provide excellent and relevant information.

GaPA's official priority issue of 2010 was to “maintain current state funding levels for those state and federal programs that deliver critical preservation services in Georgia”. The following report is the result of the 2010 Legislative Session with particular attention paid to funding and a number of bills carrying potential effects to preservation programs and services.

Historic Preservation Division (HPD)

  1. Budget
    1. The cuts for SFY11 (starts July 1) are significant but manageable. Reductions were limited to line items and amounts in the Governor’s recommendation and an additional 3% required due to revised (reduced) revenue estimates that came out after the Governor developed his budget recommendation.

  1. Reductions
    1. a total of six positions have been eliminated.

    1. reduction of $75,000 in the contract funds for Regional Commission preservation planning.

    1. reduction of $13,500 in survey monies used to pay consultants.

Bills effecting the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

  1. All legislation important to DNR gained final approval, including several that may affect DNR or require additional administrative actions.
    1. HB 1055: Among other things, this bill alters the license plate fee system. Currently, drivers are charged a $25 annual tag fee, a $20 annual registration fee, and ad valorum tax. $22 of the annual tag fee goes into the HPD Heritage Grant fund.

Under the new system which will take effect July 1, 2010, drivers will pay a $25 manufacturing fee, a $35 special plate fee, and a $35 annual renewal fee. Of this, $22 of the special plate fee and $22 of the annual renewal fee go to the HPD Heritage Grants fund.

    1. HB 1199: Allows the Department of Natural Resources to establish a non-profit organization.

Other Bills of Potential Interest

a. HB 867: Creates a Commission on Regional Planning to identify issues, opportunities and funding for statewide services.

b. SB 206: Requires the state audit department to track revenue related to tax incentives.

c. SB 374: Creates a Legislative Economic Development Council to evaluate statewide economic development strategies.

Main Street

The Main Street contract with The Georgia Trust was funded at last year’s levels which still leaves a funding gap which must be paid by The Georgia Trust general revenues.

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