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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 10-1929



[ 49 PA. CODE CH. 15 ]

Fees—Landscape Architect

[40 Pa.B. 5808]
[Saturday, October 9, 2010]

 The State Board of Landscape Architects (Board) amends § 15.12 (relating to fees). The final-form rulemaking increases the biennial license renewal fees for landscape architects from $125 to $194.

Effective Date

 The final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The new biennial renewal fees will take effect for the biennial period beginning June 1, 2011.

Statutory Authority

 Section 5(a) of the Landscape Architects' Registration Law (act) (63 P. S. § 905(a)) requires the Board to increase fees by regulation to meet or exceed projected expenditures if the revenues raised by fees, fines and civil penalties are not sufficient to match expenditures over a 2-year period.

Background and Need for Amendment

 Under section 5(a) of the act, the Board is required by law to support its operations from the revenue it generates from fees, fines and civil penalties. In addition, the act provides that the Board will increase fees if the revenue raised by fees, fines and civil penalties is not sufficient to meet expenditures over a 2-year period. The Board raises virtually all of its revenue through biennial renewal fees. The biennial renewal fee has not been increased since 1983.

 At the March 12, 2009, Board meeting the Department of State's Bureau of Finance and Operations (BFO) staff presented a summary of the Board's revenue and expenses for Fiscal Years (FY) 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 and projected revenue and expenses through FY 2017-2018. BFO projects that, without an increase to the biennial renewal fee, the Board will incur significant deficits. BFO recommended that the Board raise fees to meet or exceed projected expenditures, in compliance with section 5(a) of the act. As a result, the Board voted to increase the biennial renewal fee from $125 to $194. BFO anticipates that the new biennial renewal fees will enable the Board to avoid the projected deficits and meet its estimated expenditures for years to come. The Board has a stable population base of just under 1,000 landscape architects and a low adjudicatory docket.

 Notice of the proposed rulemaking was published at 40 Pa.B. 623 (January 30, 2010), requesting public comments within 30 days. No public comments were received. On March 10, 2010, the House Professional Licensure Committee (HPLC) submitted a comment to the Board. The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee (SCP/PLC) did not submit comments. On March 31, 2010, the Board received a letter from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) indicating that it did not have objections, comments or recommendations to offer on the proposed rulemaking.

Comment and the Board's Response

 The HPLC asked for the Board's rationale for the 55% increase in the biennial renewal fee for landscape architects when there has not been change in the amount of the fee in 27 years. The Board's response is simply that until now, a fee increase was not necessary because the Board has consistently had a positive balance in its account at the end of each FY which was adequate to fund the Board's operations for the next FY, even without considering the projected revenue for the next FY. At the end of FY 2007-2008, the balance was $99,650.67; and at the end of FY 2008-2009, the balance was $99,150.67. The Board's annual budget is approximately $90,000, so an increase was not indicated in that at the end of each of the 3 years; there was enough money to operate for the next FY without a fee increase. However, at the end of FY 2009-2010, BFO is projecting a balance of only $10,150.67. Further, BFO is projecting that without a fee increase, the Board is facing a deficit of $37,850 at the end of FY 2011-2012. This amount is significant given the Board's annual budget of approximately $90,000. Thus, it is necessary to have a fee increase in effect by FY 2011-2012 to avoid a deficit situation.

 The Board voted to adopt a one-time increase from $125 to $194 to be effective with the 2011 renewal because it would avoid the projected deficit and put the Board back on firm financial ground with projected positive balances in its account for the foreseeable future. Going forward, the Board estimates biennial revenue of approximately $212,000 ($189,000 in renewal years and $23,000 in nonrenewal years). This amount will be sufficient to fund the Board's biennial expenditures, which are projected to be approximately $180,000 to $200,000. These amounts are in keeping with the Board's legislative mandate that revenues received from fees, fines and civil penalties be sufficient to cover expenditures over a 2-year period.

 In addition, the Board felt strongly that an increase that amounts to $34.50 per year would not be overly burdensome for landscape architects. A survey of 47 other states' renewal fees for landscape architects indicates a range from a low of $60 (Illinois, $30 annual renewal fee) to a high of $610 (Texas, $305 annual renewal fee), with an average of $220 for biennial renewal. Therefore, the Board does not believe a $194 biennial renewal fee will put landscape architects in this Commonwealth at a competitive disadvantage, while it will provide the Board sufficient revenue to fund its activities without the need for another increase for years to come.

Fiscal Impact

 The final-form rulemaking will increase the biennial renewal fee for landscape architects by $69 or $34.50 per year. There are currently 989 actively licensed landscape architects that will be expected to pay the increased biennial renewal fee. The final-form rulemaking should not have other fiscal impact on the private sector, the general public or political subdivisions.

Paperwork Requirements

 The final-form rulemaking requires the Board to alter some of its forms to reflect the new biennial renewals fees; however, the final-form rulemaking should not create additional paperwork for the private sector.

Sunset Date

 The act requires the Board to monitor its revenue and costs on a FY and biennial basis. Therefore, a sunset date has not been assigned.

Regulatory Review

 Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on January 14, 2010, the Board submitted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 40 Pa.B. 623, to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the HPLC and the SCP/PLC for review and comment.

 Under section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC, the HPLC and the SCP/PLC were provided with copies of the comments received during the public comment period, as well as other documents when requested. In preparing the final-form rulemaking, the Board has considered all comments from IRRC, the HPLC, the SCP/PLC and the public.

 Under section 5.1(j.2) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(j.2)), on September 15, 2010, the final-form rulemaking was approved by the HPLC and the SCP/PLC. Under section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act, the final-form rulemaking was deemed approved effective September 15, 2010.

Contact Person

 Further information may be obtained by contacting Teresa Lazo, Board Counsel, State Board of Landscape Architects, P. O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649.


 The Board finds that:

 (1) Public notice of proposed rulemaking was given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

 (2) A public comment period was provided as required by law and no public comments were received.

 (3) This final-form rulemaking is necessary and appropriate for administering and enforcing the act.


 The Board, acting under its authorizing statutes, orders that:

 (a) The regulations of the Board, 49 Pa. Code Chapter 15, are amended by amending § 15.12 to read as set forth at 40 Pa.B. 623.

 (b) The Board shall submit this order and 40 Pa.B. 623 to the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Attorney General as required by law.

 (c) The Board shall certify this order and 40 Pa.B. 623 and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

 (d) This order shall take effect on publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.


 (Editor's Note: For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission relating to this document, see 40 Pa.B. 5655 (October 2, 2010).)

Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 16A-619 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 10-1929. Filed for public inspection October 8, 2010, 9:00 a.m.]

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