Rural parks don’t get much funding in El Paso County.
This year’s budget talks continue at the El Paso County Courthouse, however, the recommendation for this year’s budget is $249,333. By comparison, Ascarate Park is recommended to receive $1.42 million. That amount doesn’t include money used for the pool and golf course.
Commissioner Vince Perez is pushing for more money to be allocated to rural parks in his district. He’s not sure others will join him in that push. He told ABC-7 he doesn’t think Ascarate deserves less, but he thinks it paints a good picture of what should be made available to rural parks, too.
“If you go look at the parks we have in Tornillo, Fabens, Montana Vista and San Elizario they don’t have grass,” said Perez. “It’s not an adequate place for children to play.”
Views of the parks are shown on the El Paso County website. From aerial views they look like little more than dirt patches, but Perez says there are more acres in the 12 county-owned rural parks than Ascarate Park. He said it’s not fair when you consider the families that can’t drive 40 minutes to go to those parks.
“When you take a look at the budget and you take a look at how much money is invested at Ascarate Park and the Sportspark, and you compare that to what is outside the city limits, there is a huge disparity in what we spend,” said Perez.
This year’s budget is tight. Perez said finding savings in other places and getting support to increase rural parks budgeting will be an uphill battle. Already this year the county declined to add money to a fund to supplement district judge’s salaries. Some departments remain smaller than more than a decade ago after deep cuts to save money during previous tight budget cycles.
Budget talks will continue this month. A county tax increase remains a possibility.