The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department faces $125 million in deferred maintenance each year, ranging from playground maintenance and aquatics needs to mowing and servicing trash and recycling receptacles. What would be your strategy for addressing this need?

Parks maintenance has been underfunded in recent history. As mayor, I will prioritize increased funding for this purpose in the city’s annual budget. Providing for adequate maintenance should also be a key element in the long range planning effort.

In addition, the city should work to expand the opportunities for volunteers, businesses and nonprofit organizations to assist with parks maintenance where feasible. This expansion should focus not only on increased resources for the programs, but also on ease of program access to the community. We should monitor the geographic distribution of where these opportunities are being used and take culturally appropriate measures to activate and assist underrepresented areas. In addition, ongoing feedback from participants will provide insights for improving the process.

I am very grateful to the contingent of current Council Members for finally wrestling away some of the hotel occupancy tax revenue for parks purposes. There was strong push back, to stay with the status quo, but this allocation is entirely appropriate and acknowledges the role that parks play in our tourism industry. While I was on the Council, any effort I or another brought forward to broaden the scope of HOT revenue uses, never found more than 1 or 2 of us in support.