Great Austin Parks is a coalition of environmental groups that advocates for increases to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) budget. Coalition members include: Austin Parks Foundation, The Trail Foundation, Keep Austin Beautiful, TreeFolks, Shoal Creek Conservancy, Pease Park Conservancy, and Austin Metro Trails & Greenways.
PARD has been a favorite target for budget cuts for decades. When the good times return, the budget never seems to be fully restored. As a result, PARD lacks the staffing and funding needed to properly care for Austin’s nearly 30,000 acres of parkland. In fact, the Forestry Division has fewer employees to take care of Austin’s tree canopy today than they did in 1992 with three times the amount of acreage to care for!
Great Austin Parks proposed a $4.75 million dollar increase in the PARD budget focused on trees, trails, maintenance and pools.
The coalition asked City Council to support the following in the 2013-2014 Budget:
- $1.5 million additional funds to care for our existing trees and to plant new ones
- $1.25 million to keep our trails in good shape for walkers, runners and cyclists
- $1 million for to keep our pools open all summer long as well as equitably service all areas of town
- $1 million for very basic maintenance of our cherished parks
City Council voted for a total of $3.6 million in additional funding for Parks with a plan to achieve the full $4.75 million requested by Great Austin Parks in the next year. Not the full ask, but certainly a major step in the right direction. Here’s how this year’s additional funding breaks out: $1 million for trees, $851,000 for pools, $869,000 for maintenance, and $885,000 for trails. Many thanks to all the park advocates who weighed in and said “We can do better.”