City of Abilene Parks funding could be reallocated to help with street maintenance

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – A key funding source for the City of Abilene Parks and Recreation division could be reallocated toward street maintenance. Now, the board has a large task at hand as they search for alternative funding options for the future.

A large chunk of funding normally comes from Capital Improvement Projects, or CIP, funds. But as city officials work on next years budget, that funding could change.

“In the old CIP process, parks would get somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000,” Director of Community Services Lesli Andrews said at a Parks & Recreation board meeting Tuesday morning. “That’s no longer out there. That has been reallocated with streets passing. A lot of the CIP monies that would typically go to CIP projects will now go to street maintenance.”

Andrews said that includes projects like replacing playgrounds and concession stands, fencing,etc. With this possible large cut in funding, the board is looking at alternative options to fund future projects and parks that could come online.

“This is just the preliminary conversation really to let the board know that we’re going to have to have some more in depth plans and a hard look at how we maintain parks and recreation in the future, Andrews told KTAB/KRBC.

During the board member, one board member seemed surprised by the lack of funding.

“I wasn’t aware that there was no funding,” he said. “It kind of surprises me that we have to fund that from outside.”

Abilene residents can help with funding park projects by opting into the ‘Parks Bucks’ program. It’s an additional dollar added to your water bill. That money is put into a ‘Parks Bucks’ account and the city uses it for various small ticket projects like benches, trash cans, etc.

“We really only get about $1500 a month so it really takes quite a while to build up enough money to pay for anything,” Andrews said.

Which means with the loss of CIP funds, several big ticket items might not get the attention they need, such as bathrooms, playground equipment, etc. Andrews says nothing is set in stone yet, and it’s important to remember this is all just a preliminary discussion.

“It’s more about forecasting where the park system is going and what we need to do to keep it at the level that citizens would like,” she said.

The Parks Department does not know how much of their funding from the CIP fund will be cut. Throughout the next several meetings, the board will discuss additional funding options. One option discussed during Tuesdays meeting is to raise Parks Bucks from $1 to $5.

To watch the full meeting from Tuesday morning, click here.

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