Bond Meetings – Please give me your input!

Please plan on attending one of the following bond townhall meetings to discuss the city’s proposed $1.28B bond package. Last night, we had a good bond meeting discussion, one of three I’ll be holding for District 14 residents. You can find a copy of the proposed bond programs in my previous blog.

Bond meetings:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 6:30 pm
St. Thomas Aquinas School
3741 Abrams Road 75214
Districts 9 & 14 – Gary Griffith & Angela Hunt

Thursday, June 8, 2006 6:30 pm
Samuell-Grand Recreation Center
6200 East Grand Avenue
Districts 2 & 14 – Pauline Medrano & Angela Hunt

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 6:30 pm
Grauwyler Recreation Center
7780 Harry Hines Boulevard
Districts 2 & 14 – Pauline Medrano & Angela Hunt

New Deadlines for City Service Requests

When you call 311, the city has deadlines by which departments should respond to your service request. These deadlines are called “Service Level Agreements” or SLRs.

For example, if you call 311 because there is a loose animal, the city has a self-imposed “deadline” to address the issue within 45 days. If you report graffiti on a traffic sign or signal, the city has 60 days to address it.

These deadlines are then used to let city departments know if they are meeting their deadlines (and doing a good job) or failing to meet their deadlines and need to improve.

The problem is that many of the deadlines are far beyond the average time it takes to address the issue. It’s like saying “I’m going to give myself two weeks to take out the trash. If I meet that deadline, I’ve succeeded.” Well, you typically take out the trash once a week, so you’ll always “succeed” and meet your deadline. And the fact is, you need to take out the trash every three days, not every seven days, so you need to give yourself a new deadline to reflect your goal.

The Council’s Quality of Life Committee, of which I’m vice-chair, recognized this problem and suggested that city staff come up with new SLRs or deadlines that are more reflective of how long it actually takes to get a job done. They have done so, and I’ve posted the new deadlines here.

Addressing graffiti on signs has gone from 60 days to 14 days. Dealing with loose (non-aggressive) animals has gone from 45 to 30 days.

Some of these response times are still too long, in my opinion, but there is tremendous progress. I’ve got some quibbles with a few items that have increased in time (down tree and emergency flooding has gone from 1 to 5 days), and I’ll be discussing these with staff. Overall, this is a great step.

City to Examine Improving 911/311

As part of the City’s new focus on improving customer service, the City Manager has put together a taskforce to determine how to improve the 911/311 system.

Right now, if you call 911 or 311, the same group of operators answers the call. The 911/311 system is currently under the authority of the Fire Department. The taskforce will look at organizational structure, training standards, and management issues, among other things.

The taskforce is being asked to address these issues expeditiously so that any suggested changes can be incorporated into the upcoming budget (our budget year runs from Oct. 2006 – Sept. 2007).

Violence on Greenville

Last night around 2 a.m., a man was shot and murdered on Martel near Greenville Avenue. Two bar patrons apparently got into an argument, and one man took a gun from his truck and shot the other. The murder suspect, a Plano resident, is in police custody.

On Lower Greenville, four people were hospitalized after leaving a bar. The suspect remains at large.

This type of violence is unacceptable in our neighborhoods. I will be meeting with Police Chief David, Central Division Chief Brian Harvey, and Northeast Division Chief Jan Easterling to address these problems.

Flooding issues in District 14 addressed

Today, the City Council approved the design and construction of paving and storm drainage improvements at two key locations in District 14 that were flooded in March: Inwood at University and Gaston at Munger. This $187,500 investment will help prevent future flooding problems in these areas.

On the upcoming bond, the following projects affecting flood control affecting District 14 have been proposed: Mill Creek in East Dallas, Bachman Branch in West Dallas, McKinney Avenue in Uptown, and Mercedes at Worcola in East Dallas, totaling $5.2M.

In addition, there are improvements to the pressure sewers in the levee drainage system to extend the pressure sewers for Turtle Creek, Woodall Rogers, Dallas Branch, and Bellview at a cost of $14.7M. This will alleviate flooding in Uptown, Downtown, Victory, and other nearby areas.

Proposed 2006 Bond

After several months of townhall meetings and council input, the City Manager presented her proposed bond package to the Council today.

The package total $1.28 billion and the primary objectives are to improve our streets, flood protection and storm drainage, maintain buildings, and enhance public safety. Our other objective is to strategically invest in projects that promote tax growth and support catalyst projects.

Here’s the general breakdown of the proposal:

Streets and Transportation $365,319,359 28%
Flood Protection and Storm Drainage $334,623,816 26%
Park and Recreation Facilities $307,618,245 24%
Economic Development, Housing and Tourism
(Farmers’ Market and Union Station)
$45,215,997 4%
Police, Fire, and Courts Facilities $94,564,838 7%
Cultural Arts Facilities $60,407,189 5%
Library Facilities $43,673,402 3%
City Service and Maintenance Facilities $30,797,556 2%
TOTAL $1,282,220,402 100%

Of this, the larger, citywide items include the Cotton Bowl, Fair Park, city theater in the Arts District, Inland Port, Woodall Rogers Park, Downtown parks, Arboretum, trails, and others.

Improvements important to District 14 include flood control along Inwood, Trinity River sump improvements (that’ll help prevent flooding in the west part of our district), flood control and storm water improvements for the M Streets and Lower Greenville areas that were most affected by the flood, the much-needed Mill Creek project for East Dallas, and a flood relief system for Uptown.

Other District 14 projects include Katy Trail improvements (the Katy Trail extension to White Rock lake and construction of the Santa Fe Trail are already paid for), neighborhood park improvements, and Turtle Creek improvements.

There are numerous recommendations for street and other infrastructure improvements.

I urge you to PLEASE review the bond package and email me at angela.hunt@dallascityhall.com with your opinion and suggestions.

I am having three townhall meetings to discuss this proposed package:

Tuesday, May 30th 6:30 p.m.
St. Thomas Aquinas
6306 Kenwood
Joint with Councilmember Griffith

Thursday, June 8th, 6:30 p.m.
Samuel Grand Rec. Center
6200 East Grand
Joint with Councilmember Medrano

Tuesday, June 13th, 6:30 p.m.
Grauwyler Rec. Center
7780 Harry Hines
Joint with Councilmember Medrano

Most residents at my townhall meetings supported paying a tax increase to support a $1.5B bond. We also need to fund additional police officers to make our city safer. To get more cops, we’ll have to pay for them. That will require some kind of tax increase. So in addition to the bond, we’ll have to increase taxes to get more cops in the future.

As the bond package was being put together, I thought that it would make sense to do a smaller bond package at a smaller tax increase, and then a separte tax increase for more police. The City Manager appeared to have had the same idea, and provided a smaller (albeit large) bond package, with a clear explanation of additional property tax increases that will be required to hire more police. I like that kind of transparency.

On the issue of discretionary funds: I don’t think it’s a good idea. Residents have shared with me their concerns that the Council will not be responsible with discretionary funds. Given the allegations of corruption, millions in uncollected parking fines, improper accounting, etc., I understand there is a perception that City Hall is not fiscally responsible. I believe City Hall needs to earn residents’ trust before asking for this type of discretion.