MISSION OAKS (CBS13) — Two community parks, separated by only 1.4 miles are separately run. One has a surplus, the other a backlog of projects. Now, there is about making the two park districts one.

“They’re attempting again to force the merger on us and we don’t want it,” said Elaine Bickford.

She has seen Mission Oaks park prosper for 50 years.

“I think this park district has done a very good job keeping up with maintenance,” continued Bickford.

A report commissioned by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors recommends Mission Oaks and nearby Carmichael park districts consolidate into one.

“I strongly urge the Mission Oaks advisory board to vote against consolidation,” said Greg Gillen, a Mission Oaks resident.

On Monday at a public hearing of advisory boards from both Carmichael and Mission Oaks, people voiced their thoughts.

“Carmichael is the one that needs money,” said Gillen.

According to the report, the Carmichael park district broke even last year. They spent $4.1 million and brought in the same amount.

Mission Oaks had a $2 million surplus, bringing in $7 million compared to their $5 million in expenses.

Carmichael currently has deferred maintenance of about $3 million. They also have roughly $3 million in future plans as well.

“We don’t feel the Carmichael residents have supported their parks in the way we have ours,” said Gillen.

People in Mission Oaks pay a fee to operate the parks and rec department. If consolidation goes through, money from the fee would stay in their community.

Bickford says a similar fee in Carmichael was deemed illegal in 2015 after a judge ruled in favor of a taxpayer group.

“I don’t know when the last time this park was updated, but it seems like it hasn’t changed in quite some time,” said Susan Lovell.

The needed maintenance is noticeable.

“We’re able to keep that standard high and I’m afraid that we won’t if the district is enlarged,” said Bickford.

The study recommends combining the two for the greater good. As a result, the study suggests parks will be improved. There will be a savings of $500,000 to go towards the general fund. That savings mainly coming from cutting or consolidating some jobs.

“We enjoy the entire region. We enjoy this entire park system,” said Peter Tateishi, a Carmichael Resident.

He agrees with the study’s findings and is support of a merger.

“I see it as an opportunity for us to enhance our long-term goals for parks in this region,” Tateishi continued.

This isn’t the first time mergers have been discussed. Bickford says there were failed attempts to consolidate in the mid-1990’s and 2000’s.

The individual advisory panels will vote and then make a recommendation to Supervisor Susan Peters. It will be up to her to decide if the consolidation will go before the full Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.

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