Rural counties in Idaho could benefit from a proposed fee distribution formula being brought before the Legislature by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Sheriff's offices in rural counties could receive large portions of money designated for Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) law enforcement programs.
Troy Elmore, off highway recreation coordinator for the department, testified before the parks and recreation subcommittee Friday, touting the new distribution plan. Last year, the legislature increased the registration costs for vehicle, such as four-wheelers and dirt bikes, by $2, bringing the total cost to $12. The fee increase took effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
As a result of the increase, the department of lands is receiving $1 from every registration and the OHV law enforcement fund is receiving the other dollar. Until this point, the department was unsure of how to spread the money across the state.
Up for grabs could be well over $100,ooo annually. Elmore said that in 2009, over 135,000 OHV registrations were processed. Had the increase gone into effect in 2009, it would have generated $270,000, half of which would have gone to the law enforcement fund.
The proposed changes would dictate how the fees are disbursed throughout out. Elmore said the change has three parts:
1. Counties must have, or have the intent to create, an OHV law enforcement program.
2. Amount of land open for riding of dirt bikes, four-wheelers, and utility vehicles
3. Individual designation by riders
Only counties that have, or intend to have programs, will be eligible to receive funding. During the first year, counties that don't have programs can apply for the money and use it to start their own programs. To ensure accountability, the department said it will audit those counties that use the money to start their programs to make certain the money was spent on its designated purpose.
Those counties with more open land for OHV use could benefit in a two-fold manner. The department will look at the amount of land each county provides for riding and will provide funding proportionally to that, which in turn will benefit counties such as Gem and Latah counties. Ada, Canyon, and Kootenai counties would be disadvantaged as a result of the change.
The other way in which the smaller counties could receive additional funding is through individual rider's designation. During registration, individual riders would be allowed to designate to which county they want their $1 to go. A rider may live in Ada County or Jefferson County, but could send the money to a neighboring county.
The subcommittee will vote on the measure on a future date yet to be determined.