November 6, 2019
KCENTV | By Andrew Moore
A local state park will finally have a chance to get consistent funding for repairs, thanks to Texas voters passing Proposition 5.
The proposition will add an amendment to the state constitution that dedicates revenue from sales tax on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission for Public Parks and Historic Sites.
Janice Bezanson, Executive Director of the Texas Conservation Alliance, told 6 News that the amendment will make a huge difference for state parks.
“The beauty of prop 5 is the consistency it creates,” Bezanson said. “When the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department never knew from one biennium to the next how much money they were going to have in the next term, they couldn’t plan or initiate capital projects.”
The Texas legislature has been able to allocate sales tax to sporting goods to Texas parks and historic sites since 1993. The legislature was able to choose how much of the money was allocated every two years. However,only 40 percent of the money has made it to the parks and historic sites since it became available.
Bezanson said Texas parks and historic sites could now see a consistent $150 million every year.
When a log jam developed at Mother Neff State Park in Central Texas around 2014, Texas Parks and Wildlife spent years searching for a funding source for the then estimated $220,000 project. They eventually had to work with the National Resource Conservation Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the project.
The campsite next to that river still needs to be reconstructed. Silt left by flooding needs to be removed, dying trees need to be cut down and buildings need to be restored. But because of the new amendment, funding will be easier to come by.
“Repairing and constructing buildings is a complicated process that requires assessment, taking bids,” Bezanson said. “The long term consistency of funding is therefore very important.”
Benzanson told 6 News there is a backlog of park improvement projects across the state of Texas totaling around $800 million, so the additional revenue will be sorely needed.
“They will be able to plan, and execute a long term gameplan,” Bezanson said.