Last updated: February 20. 2013 3:24AM - 490 Views

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HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced Wednesday that it plans to reduce operating costs by $9 million over the next four years in order to meet future health-care and retirement obligations for its employees and to fund infrastructure needs. A portion of this reduction will come from closing two trout hatcheries, a move that will reduce annual operating costs by approximately $2 million.

The two hatcheries include Oswayo in Coudersport, Potter County, which has nine employees, and Bellefonte in Centre County, which has nine employees. No furloughs are expected. The PFBC plans to offer affected employees jobs at other PFBC facilities.

Fishing license sales have steadily declined since 1990, while at the same time operating costs have continued to increase, including the price of fish food, said PFBC Executive Director John Arway.

As a result, we must streamline our operations and reduce operating costs in order to maintain a sound financial condition while we attempt to secure long-term, dedicated alternative funding, he added. As part of this process, we evaluated our 14 production sites and determined that closing these two trout hatcheries would have the least impact on the number of trout stocked.

Arway added that because of existing vacancies within the Commission, no employees are expected to be laid off.

Over the last two years, a number of vacancies have been created from retirements and transfers, he said. As a result, we plan to offer the employees at Oswayo and Bellefonte the opportunity to take these jobs at other facilities.

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