Forest Service:

Little Assurance That Fair Market Value Fees Are Collected From Ski Areas

RCED-93-107: Published: Apr 16, 1993. Publicly Released: May 12, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) whether the Forest Service's graduated rate fee system (GRFS) generates fair-market value fees for ski resorts operating on its land; (2) whether a ski industry-developed fee system would collect fair-market value fees; and (3) how the ski industry's fee system compares with GRFS.

GAO found that: (1) GRFS does not ensure that the Service receives a fair-market value return for the use of its land, since the Service has not adjusted GRFS rates to reflect changes in economic conditions; (2) the ski industry's fee system does not ensure that collected fees reflect fair-market value, since the industry has designed its system to generate total fees comparable to collections under GRFS; (3) the ski industry's system is simpler and based on a ski area's overall gross sales; (4) most of the ski area permittees favor the industry's system because of its simplicity; and (5) the industry's system would reduce administrative costs, accounting and auditing workloads, and fee assessment appeals.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 1996, the President signed into law the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Act of 1996. Title VII of that act prescribes a fee schedule for ski areas on lands administered by the Forest Service. This fee system will be more simple to administer than the existing fee system of the Forest Service. The new system was designed to collect a similar amount of fees service-wide as the old system. As such, it is not likely to result in an increase in fees paid to the government

    Matter: In the event that Congress passes legislation revising the Forest Service's ski fee system, it should ensure that the ski fees established are based on fair-market value. Furthermore, legislation should provide for periodic updates of the fees to reflect any changes in economic conditions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In 1996, the President signed into law the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Act of 1996. Title VII of that act prescribes a fee schedule for ski areas on lands administered by the Forest Service. This fee system will be more simple to administer than the existing fee system of the Forest Service. The new system was designed to collect a similar amount of fees service-wide as the old system. As such, it is not likely to result in an increase in fees paid to the government

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to take advantage of the current interest in developing a simplified ski fee system by developing a system that not only is simpler but also will ensure that the government receives fees based on fair-market value.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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