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Ascarate golf course costs could affect balancing county budget

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso County is looking to cut costs and balance the budget, but it could continue to lose money on the Ascarate Park golf course.

Running the golf course last year cost the county more than $300,000, and the county is already facing a tight budget for the next fiscal year.

Despite maintenance there costing more than revenue coming in, some golfers said the course could use improvements.

"Some of the greens are a little irregular and some are damaged," east El Paso resident Tanner Bolt said.

As KFOX14 previously reported, a pay raise for defenders set to go into effect July 1. That alone could add about $1 million a year to the budget.

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar said county officials want to avoid using a "shotgun approach" to cut costs.

"What we want to do instead is kind of look at department by department and see if there is a function within that department or a program within that department that maybe, doing a cost-benefit analysis, shows it's not offering a value," Escobar said.

The county is also looking into how it can make up for lost revenue specifically at Ascarate Park.

Some said they are happy with the golf course and past renovations the county funded.

"If you have a community that's maintained, and you have people that want to come visit there and play, it only [benefits] the economy as a whole," Gildardo Leon said. Leon played golf at the course while visiting El Paso from Arizona.

However, some golfers don't want to pay more to play at Ascarate.

"They could re visit the prices to try to make up that difference, but then I think fewer people would come here. So, it's a difficult situation," Bolt said.

Making up the difference for extra costs could be difficult because the county has two main sources of revenue, property taxes and sales taxes that aren't likely to increase.

County commissioners said they want to avoid raising taxes and dipping into reserves to make up for higher costs during the next fiscal year at a recent budget meeting.

The next budget needs to be finalized by September.