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#6774869 - 05/25/17 05:17 PM Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature
jeh7mmmag Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 13105
Loc: Colleyville, DFW, TX

Requests for special help with parks operations are met with no money from Legislature. mad

New work to address overdue repairs at Texas state parks and efforts to open new parks to the public appear to be on hold after lawmakers at the Capitol have signaled unwillingness to give more money to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“We knew this was going to be a very fiscally constrained session going into it,” agency Executive Director Carter Smith told Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners at a workshop Wednesday. “The opportunities for growth were going to be an uphill challenge at best.”

Beyond its normal budget, the agency had asked for at least $75 million to address deferred maintenance — the agency estimates it actually needs hundreds of millions of dollars to fix aging, failing infrastructure; the Legislature has agreed to provide $17 million.

Some of the money will go to hatchery projects; the rest will not fund anything new, instead acting as a backstop for the roughly $65 million in construction projects already underway at state parks.

“We spent a lot of time working with the Legislature on what would be a 10-year funding plan to address priority needs for the state park system getting ready for our centennial in 2023,” Smith said.

But projects to improve water and wastewater facilities at parks across the state, including Pedernales Falls and Colorado Bend, will have to be deferred.

The reconstruction of undersized visitor facilities at Inks Lake and other state parks also will be on hold. The development of new parks, including Kronkosky State Natural Area, about 100 miles southwest of Austin, and the proposed state park at Powderhorn Ranch, 160 miles southeast of Austin along the Gulf Coast, also has been paused.

Lawmakers met the agency’s $23.9 million request for more state parks operations money with a zero. The agency had requested the money to meet its explosive growth — it nowhas roughly a million more visitors annually at its parks than it did in 2011.

“What we want to do is provide affordable and safe and quality experience for families that come to visit our parks,” Smith told commissioners. “We’ve got to have the resources to be able to do that.”

The Legislature also brushed off the agency’s request for $31.5 million to upgrade aging boats and other equipment for its law enforcement division; instead, the agency got $1 million.

But the Legislature did fork over the full $11 million request for border security work and the full $49 million for weather-related repairs to state parks.

“You can quickly ascertain what the Legislature felt was really a priority,” Smith told the commissioners. “Clearly they told us the priorities for funding were border security funding and emergency, one-time related repairs.”

Finally, the agency had lobbied the Legislature to ensure that tax revenue raised through the sale of sporting goods, such as kayaks and tennis rackets, be largely dedicated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

In theory, the Legislature had long declared that money should go to parks, but lawmakers had been siphoning much of that money for other uses, including general revenue spending and book balancing.

But House Bill 78, by state Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, which would confirm that the state parks department gets 94 percent of sporting goods sales tax revenue, has not made it out of committee.

“We have some real challenges going ahead,” Smith said.


No mention of funding for the new Park/Lake lands development around Eastland county (Mule Lip Ranch) Palo Pinto Moutain State Park, Davis Hill near Houston, Powderhorn Ranch on the coastal bend, Chinati Mountain, Devils River Ranch addition which has never opened yet?, Albert and Bessie Kronkosky near Austin and San Antonio, Draw Hunts Program expansion with VAP funds & VAP funds for public dove land leases, etc, either. Looks like we can all forget about the promise of 94% of PR-DJ excise tax fund we were promise in 2015.
mad hammer violin hanged

#6775313 - 05/26/17 07:30 AM Re: Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature [Re: jeh7mmmag]
yotehater Offline

Registered: 05/13/16
Posts: 835
Loc: Creagleville, Van Zandt county
Imagine that. Look at what they are spending our taxes on. realmad
One shot is all it should take.

#6777180 - 05/28/17 02:00 PM Re: Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature [Re: jeh7mmmag]
Treinta-Treinta Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 05/15/14
Posts: 275
Personally, I think they are locking things up so they can justify a selloff

John 5:24

#6796166 - 06/17/17 01:13 PM Re: Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature [Re: jeh7mmmag]
jeh7mmmag Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 13105
Loc: Colleyville, DFW, TX
Parks funding in tough terrain

By John Austin PHP State Reporter 14 hrs ago

Planning is underway for Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, 80 miles west of Fort Worth, but lawmakers left Austin without appropriating $25 million in sporting goods sales taxes to build it.

The much-heralded 4,391-acre project is one of five sites, already owned, that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department can’t develop for lack of funding at a time when visitation is rising steeply.

“Last year was a record year,” said George Bristol, former chairman of the Texas State Parks Advisory Committee. “It’s projected an 18 percent increase in visitation this year over last year.”

James Adams, who on Thursday began work as superintendent at the Palo Pinto site, said planners could finish their work by January 2019.

But the dedicated revenue stream that would help turn the sites into useable parks and nature areas — utilities, fishing piers, equestrian trails, cabins and other amenities — failed to materialize, despite a bill meant to ensure it.

The 2015 bill, hailed as a landmark, dedicated 94 percent of general sales-tax revenue attributed to sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

A related bill was passed in the same session that “essentially gave flexibility to spend dollars where they are most needed for parks,” according to the TPWD website.

But no one realized until a few months before the 2017 regular legislative session that the related bill negated the language that would have made funding permanent.

“They were patted on the back in editorials all over the state of Texas for dedicating 94 percent for state parks,” said Janice Bezanson, executive director of the Texas Conservation Alliance. “The famous bill that got us state-park funding forever got us funding for two years.”

In addition to Palo Pinto Mountains, west of Fort Worth, the four new planned parks are Albert and Bessie Kronkosky near Austin and San Antonio, Powderhorn on the coastal bend, Chinati Mountains in far West Texas and Davis Hill near Houston, according to TPWD’s website.

“Those are all things we were hoping to get into the development stage,” said Josh Havens, the TPWD’s communications division director.

If the 2015 bill that lawmakers intended to pass had actually taken effect, $313.5 million would have gone into TPWD accounts in the upcoming biennium, Bezanson said.

But because the language was negated, only part of the tax money, lawmakers were free to appropriate less and only $277.6 million will go to the department.

About $49 million of the money the department did receive is slated for repairs at state park facilities damaged by weather events in recent years.

The $36 million TPWD would have received, had the permanent funding been put in place, can be used for unrelated items.

No new funds were appropriated in the 2018-19 budget for planning, design or construction of new park sites, Stephanie Salinas Garcia, a TPWD spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Bezanson said lawmakers “didn’t even make a half-hearted attempt” to fix the oversight in the 2017 session.

Proposals authored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, aimed at correcting the mistake died during the regular 2017 legislative session.

“Although many in this legislative body have repeatedly and erroneously touted the notion that sporting goods sales taxes have been dedicated to our parks and historical systems, this session’s failure of HB 78 and HJR 16, and the diversion of nearly $40 million in sporting goods sales tax away from parks in the budget, paint an entirely different picture,” Guillen said in an email.

In Strawn, about three miles from the site of the Palo Pinto site, Michael Orsini, the former city secretary, said folks were “disappointed deluxe” to hear that money to build what would be an economic asset wasn’t coming from Austin.

“The town was excited,” Orsini said. “We were really hoping to get some funds this last legislative session.”

As for existing park facilities, Bristol said that they’re beginning to get overcrowded.

As visitation escalates, there could be partial closings at the very time that people want to visit and “enjoy what they’ve already paid for,” Bristol said.

John Austin covers the Texas Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at

#6801323 - 06/22/17 06:06 PM Re: Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature [Re: jeh7mmmag]
Chunky Monkey Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/03/14
Posts: 1606
That chaps my A

#6802180 - 06/23/17 03:35 PM Re: Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature [Re: jeh7mmmag]
jeh7mmmag Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 13105
Loc: Colleyville, DFW, TX
Budget shortfall affecting maintenance at Texas state parks

Joshua Peguero
Posted: Jun 22, 2017 07:53 PM CDT

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 07:59 PM CDT

BROWNWOOD, Texas - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says its facilities can’t keep up with the demands after failing to receive money during the 2017 legislative session that lawmakers promised two years ago.

In 2015, state lawmakers passed a law to dedicate 94 percent of the sporting good tax money to state parks. But this year, the department only received 88 percent of it, which is a loss of $36 million.

“Unfortunately, the department has struggled with our ability to grow our operational support,” Director of Communications at TPWD Josh Havens said on Thursday.

He said the loss funds will curtail several proposed maintenance projects at all of its 91 sites.

“[We have] a list of maintenance projects at all of our sites in the state park system, and that list is roughly about $590 million,” Havens said.

One project TWPD hoped to move forward with was the planning and design of a new pool and bathhouse at Abilene State Park, according to Havens. But that project will be placed on hold until the funds become available.

Lake Brownwood State Park managed to get two of its projects underway before the cut. There's a new wastewater plant being constructed and repairs getting made to the lift station.

“When we get this new wastewater system plant, we’ll be able to operate at less cost because we won’t have to maintain the old system and do so many repairs and replacements,” Park Superintendent John Holland said.

Tanner Contreras made the trip to Lake Brownwood State Park this week for the first time.

“They have so many docks and piers you can fish on … and it’s all open,” Contreras said on Thursday.


#6803106 - 06/24/17 03:12 PM Re: Texas parks projects on hold after snub by Legislature [Re: jeh7mmmag]
jeh7mmmag Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 13105
Loc: Colleyville, DFW, TX
Parks politics: ‘Metroplex’s playground’ denied funding


About 80 miles west of Fort Worth lies an area that is intended to be “the Metroplex’s playground.”

The 4,400-acre state park includes 1,400-foot ridge lines, a 90-acre lake and two creeks surrounded by pristine forests of live oaks, post oaks and pecan trees.

“It’s as if we’re the first people who ever saw it,” said Barbara McKnight of Stephenville who has seen portions of the park on rides with the Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association. “It has that effect. It’s humbling.”

But the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park won’t be throwing open it gates to the public anytime soon.

While a small portion around Tucker Lake is open, most of the park remains undeveloped.

During this year’s legislature session, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asked for $25 million to construct the park and got nothing. Brent Leisure, TPWD’s state parks director, said he remains optimistic the park eventually will get funded.



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