JoMary Riders Monthly Report – April 2008

First of all, I want to thank all of you who took the time to write to members of the I F & W Committee about the need to provide more money to the Snowmobile Program by increasing both resident and nonresident registration fees. I testified before the committee on March 6 and as far as I was concerned our pleas for assistance fell on mostly deaf ears. The Snowmobile Advisory Council had asked for a $17 increase on the resident registrations and a $32 increase on the nonresident registrations. This would have taken us to $50 and $100 respectively. After hours of debate they agreed to disagree on A $2 increase for residents and $20 for nonresidents. Wow, a $2 increase for us Mainers! Some of our esteemed legislators were concerned about putting too much added pressure on us locals so they wouldn’t give us any more of an increase. I can see their point, after spending seven to ten thousand dollars on a new sled, four hundred on a helmet and five hundred on a jacket and bibs we really can’t afford to pay an extra $17 to insure that we’d have good trails to ride on! And just so you understand this completely, if they had given us the $17 increase, the funding formula would have only given the snowmobile program a whopping $6.71. The balance would have been split between I F & W and your local community. By the time you read this the full legislature will probably have voted on this issue. It’s anybody’s guess as to how they will vote but with Maine in such a financial mess I for one am not too optimistic. And this is what the increase (if they vote “Yes”) will yield; based on an estimated 80,000 resident registrations x $2 increase = $160,000 on the resident side and based on 15,000 nonresident registrations x $15 = 225,000. ( I F & W keeps $5 of the total $20 increase). This gives us a grand total of $385,000 extra into the program and only if the registrations are as high as predicted. If fuel prices continue to climb we will see fewer sleds being registered, I guarantee it. So anyway, this increase will only be a drop in the bucket towards any meaningful increase in funding the snowmobile program. As one of the legislators said, “Even if we gave them $2,000,000 it wouldn’t be enough”. Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence in an industry that has an economic benefit of $350,000,000 to the good ole State of Maine. I wonder if he’s willing to go out and groom the trails for us?

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as a result of the vote. If we don’t get any more funding I believe that I’ll raise the white flag and give up. Let someone else fight the “good battle”. In a State that has little apparent regard for what we do, why continue to beat your head against the wall? The headache just keeps getting bigger and no amount of Aleve or Tylenol seems to help! And if they actually throw us the little financial bone, well, that’s a story for another time! Right now I have to go out and groom our beautiful trails…we’re already $4700 over our grant but there’s still fuel in the tank so, what the hell, time to go smooth out those moguls!

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