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Clark County eyes $150M in park upgrades

Clark County plans to spend $150 million to bolster its public parks.

County commissioners on Tuesday voted to have county staff plan and design up to $150 million worth of public park projects to prepare for the issuance of park bonds next year. The county has not issued parks bonds since 1999.

“You don’t want to issue the bonds — which we’ll immediately have to start paying on — until the design is done,” Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said after the commission meeting.

But with $1.8 billion in unfunded parks and recreation projects listed in the county’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan, commissioners could soon be quarreling about which projects are prioritized.

“Obviously $150 million is not going to meet the desires that seven commissioners have up here for parks in their area,” Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said. “How are we going to rank this? Because we’re all territorial to some extent with our parks that don’t exist.”

“I just want to make sure $150 million is adequate to accomplish what we need to accomplish, and I just don’t know if that’s enough,” Giunchigliani said. “So what happens when we get our master plans together and decide we need additional (funds)?”

Giunchigliani said she wants spending on parks in areas where residential development hasn’t been robust in recent years because those areas receive less tax money.

Need analysis

Before questions about priority and financing can be answered, however, county staff must complete an analysis defining the greatest areas of need.

The county aims to have 2.5 developed park acres for every 1,000 residents of unincorporated Clark County. With 109 parks, The county is approximately a half-square-mile shy of its goal ratio, based on 2016 population estimates of nearly 1 million people.

“We’ll go through and we’ll look where there are gaps where we’re not meeting that criteria,” County Manager Yolanda King said. “And we’ll have to develop, along with the board (of county commissioners), a priority of what gets funded.”

County Chief Financial Officer Jessica Colvin said $150 million was recommended because that is the maximum the county can issue without increasing its annual general fund spending. The bonds’ principal and interest will be paid back with existing sales tax revenue.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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