Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Official Ballot Language
The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.
Under the Texas Constitution, the legislature can authorize specified counties or water districts to create conservation and reclamation districts that would issue bonds and levy taxes to develop parks and recreational facilities that were not so authorized before Sept. 13, 2003.
Currently 10 counties are specified; Proposition 7 would add El Paso County to that list.
If the proposed amendment passes, voters in the district would have to approve or deny creation of a combined city/county tax district in El Paso County in order for the Legislature to authorize a district to issue bonds or incur indebtedness.
The city of El Paso's parks system is bearing the brunt of tremendous growth in the county, not only from migration but also the relocation of military families to Fort Bliss. The proposed amendment would enable the city and county to work together to develop a comprehensive regional parks system, which would not only attract development, but also could leverage resources of both the city and county operate more efficiently than either entity could on its own.
Passage of this proposed constitutional amendment would not automatically raise taxes. It is just the first step in the process of allowing the district voters to decide on the creation of an El Paso County parks district. If approved, city and county officials would begin working on enabling legislation for consideration by the 83rd Texas Legislature beginning January 2013.
If the proposition is approved, taxpayers in the county, which is not affluent, could be subject to yet another taxing entity. Establishing a regional parks district is a quality of life issue rather than an economic development issue. Sustaining the economy is a more important focus for community leaders at this time.
City and county leaders need to have more information about the exact financing, leadership, functions and authority of the proposed parks district before this constitutional amendment is presented to voters.