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Wyoming Livestock Board Moves Forward with Fee Discussions

Written by Steve True

The Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) held a teleconference meeting on April 7 at 2 p.m. where they continued their discussions of legislative action from the recent session.

  As a quick review of legislative action that affected WLSB, Senate File (SF) 147 amends the language in Wyoming Statute (WS) 11-20-408(b). This statute refers in part to WLSB's ability to raise fees. Current statute allows the board to adjust fees, “… not more than one (1) time per fiscal year and by not more than 20 percent in any one fiscal year…”

This has changed from 20 to 25 percent and becomes law on Oct. 1, 2017.

The next impact was inside the supplemental budget bill in reference to our agency budget. In June 2016, WLSB responded to the Governor’s recommendation for all agencies to find an eight percent cut to our General Fund appropriation. Included in these was a cut to our Brand Inspection General Fund appropriation of $558,936. The Joint Appropriation Committee (JAC) accepted all these cuts and added an additional cut of $500,000 to the Brand General Fund for fiscal 2018. These cuts of $1,558,936 will carry forward into the next biennium, as well.

Inside our budget in the supplemental bill, JAC, removed funding for three of our four criminal investigators, beginning Jan. 1, 2018. In short, that means next year we have one criminal investigator for the entire state. 

As a result of these actions, the board discussed and voted to approve several actions.

The board has prepared a rulemaking for the Chapter 9 rules, “Brand Inspection/Recording Fees.”

WLSB is offering an amendment to the rule to make a 10 percent, with rounding of odd amounts, increase to all inspection and recording fees, to sunset on Aug. 15, 2018. This increase with a sunset date allows for two results. 

First, in an effort to be fiscally prudent, this increase will capture some offset of the cuts of this year by allowing the agency to have the moderate increase, in effect, for this fall shipping period. 

  Second, the sunset date has allowed the board to form a committee of board members and producers to review possible adjustments to the program going forward. After review of the speed of burn of the revenue fund, as it has taken on many of the costs of the previous cuts, and the defunding of three of the investigators, we realize that lowered expenditures and new efficiencies are required to perform our mandates. We believe that this committee, with producer input, will provide the board the information it needs to make the proper decisions for the future. 

The amended rules are authorized by WS 11-18-103(v), WS 11-20-201 through WS 11-20-229 and WS 11-20-401 through WS 11-20-409.

These rules establish the fees charged for brand inspection and brand recording in compliance with WS 11-20-103, WS 11-20-115, WS 11-20-116, WS 11-20-217, WS 11-20-401 and WS 11-20-402. The Chapter 9 rules currently in effect were revised in 2013. 

In the 2017 legislative session, there were significant cuts to the program. The intent of the Legislature was that these cuts in General Funding were to be offset, at least partially, by increases in user fees, as evidenced by the passing of Enrolled Act 34, which increases the board’s ability to raise user fees in a fiscal year. Failure to increase fees will necessitate curtailing of services to livestock producers, which could hinder their ability to market livestock at the optimum time.

Fees have not been adjusted since 2013, when there was actually was a slight decrease in the in state accustomed range permits. Fees have not seen a significant increase since 2008. 

These amended rules are in the application process and should shortly be out for public comment.