By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, September 23, Alabama State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) and State Representative Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile) announced that they have a plan to generate up to $5 million additional dollars a year to help the cash strapped State parks.
The duo announced that they plan to file legislation in the 2016 Regular Session to allow Alabama’s boat owners to purchase specialty boat license tags. The program would mirror the specialty tags program already in production for automobiles.
Senator Dial said, “One of the greatest things we have here in Alabama is our State parks. The recent General Fund Budget again reduces funding for parks, so I have been looking for innovative ways to find additional funding to keep all of our State parks open. This plan doesn’t raise taxes, it’s just an opportunity for boat owners to purchase specialized tags, and a portion of the proceeds will go to State parks.”
State Representative Wilcox said, “Our plan is to introduce companion bills in the House and Senate on day one of the 2016 Session and I expect they will move quickly through the legislative process. As a resident of Mobile County, I can tell you many boat owners would be excited to purchase specialty tags, if they were available, so I think this can generate a good bit of money for our parks.”
There are over 280,000 boats registered in Alabama. Senator Dial estimates that if only 13 percent of boat owners opted to purchase a specialty tag (roughly the percentage of automobile owners that do), then it could mean approximately $5 million annually to State parks in additional revenue.
Senator Gerald Dial represents District 13 in the Alabama Senate. Margie Wilcox represents House District 104.
Also on Wednesday the Alabama State Parks said in a statement that was part of an email to park supporters. The Parks System wrote: “The Legislature has concluded their budgeting effort for FY2016 and made their decision to transfer funds from our Department for a fifth year in a row. They make the State’s laws, and we must find ways to implement them.”
The Park System continued, “Our immediate task is to now work with Finance and Budget authorities to analyze the impact of this additional year of transfers, and our staff are already working on contingency plans to address this loss of revenue. We do not think it’s fair to the people of the State, and the hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists that enjoy our parks each year, for us to speculate today on how this transfer will impact the system. This remains a very serious matter for the park system, and we expect to know more within the next week to ten days and will share that information with the public at that time.”