Trails and Open Space Coalition supports parks funding in measure 1A
The Trails and Open Space Coalition passed the following resolution at their September meeting:
“The Trails and Open Space Coalition supports the County’s TABOR retention initiative because it provides up to $2.5 million for critical county parks and trails projects and it adjusts the TABOR cap. EPC commissioners have committed an additional $750,000 for Parks Capital improvements for 2019, 2020 and 2021 if it should pass. Improved funding for county and city parks has been a primary focus for this organization for the past 10 years. Our mission calls out preservation and trail connectivity. Without adequate funding neither of those values can be achieved.”
Background: El Paso County’s TABOR Retention ballot initiative provides $14.6 million dollars for the following projects:
- Roadway Safety and Capacity Improvements – up to $12 million
(includes a minimum of $6 million for I-25 widening/local share)
- Disaster Recovery Projects – $1 million
(including New Santa Fe Trail, Maxwell Street and Hansen Trailheads, Stratmoor Valley Park)
- Parks Projects – $1.5 million
(Bear Creek, Falcon, County Fairgrounds, Fountain Creek Fox Run, Regional Trail Upgrades)
Why would TOSC support a ballot initiative that is primarily a roads project?
- EPC Parks are underfunded. EPC parks has 8,000 acres of parkland, 105 miles of trails, 2 nature centers, 11 playgrounds and numerous athletic facilities. The total 2018 El Paso County Parks’ budget will receive general fund tax support of $1,395,673. (Total parks budget is @1.9 million, park rentals, County Fair proceeds, grants and donations=.5 million)
That =$2.13 per capita…..in most Front Range counties with regional parks it’s @$7.00 per capita
- Parks Maintenance dollars are not increasing. Total park maintenance budget for 2018 = $237,116. Identical to 2017 and down from 2016 – $303,046.05
- 5 million will significantly improve the parks budget as they will stretch those dollars by using some of it for grant match. Also, the initiative readjusts the TABOR cap which will mean an additional $750,000/year for the parks budget beginning in 2019 for 3 years.
In Tim Wolken’s (EPC Parks Director) words: “If it does not pass and the revenue cap is not increased like most of the counties in Colorado have done, we may have to give back many of the County Parks gains over the past few years. We will also not complete $3 – 4 million of park improvements.”