XV. Budgetary Issues
A. Management Funding for Jocassee Gorges/Trust Fund
Legislation is currently progressing through the South
Carolina General Assembly that will create the Jocassee Gorges Trust Fund.
The trustees would be the SCDNR Board. The trustees would assist and
oversee the raising of an endowment sufficient to meet the ordinary
expenses of managing the property. Certain capital expenditures could be
made from the fund, but the principal obligation of the trustees will be
to maintain a permanent balance sufficient to provide operating expenses
and allow for inflation. The SCDNR Board has established an advisory
committee to help with the fundraising task and has initiated a search for
a full-time fundraiser.
Securing management funding for Jocassee Gorges will
offer an immediate challenge to SCDNR. Staffing the area with management
and law enforcement personnel, procuring necessary heavy equipment to
maintain the property, and other management-related needs will be
expensive. Access road repairs and maintenance represent the most
immediate need and expense to SCDNR. Preliminary estimates for first-year
road repairs and upgrades exceed one half million dollars. It will be
essential initially to form cooperative agreements with DEC, CRI, SCFC,
SCDOT and other agencies to conduct road repairs during the interim while
management funding is being established. SCDNR will explore the
opportunity to train appropriate staff in mountain road repairs,
maintenance, and erosion control under agreement with the aforementioned.
Short-term personnel, equipment, and operation and
maintenance needs for protection and management of Jocassee Gorges
property are presented (Appendix A-6). Interim planning and cooperative
agreements will be required to maintain the property until adequate
management funding is secured.
B. User Fees
Overwhelming support of user fees to support management
of Jocassee Gorges was voiced by constituents during the public meeting
process. User fees are generally implemented for services provided.
Current regulations restrict SCDNR from assessing user fees. Legislation
is pending authorizing a user fee for SCDNR property. Depending on the
outcome of this legislation, user fees may be considered in the future as
a source of revenue for management services.