The City Manager briefed the Council on the proposed budget for 2006-07 (our fiscal year runs Oct. 2006 to Sept. 2007).
First, the proposed budget reduces the property tax rate — the first time in eight years — by .25 cents. At the same time, we are investing an additional $35M into public safety, hiring more police, increasing police pay, and hiring more 911/311 call-takers. This focus on public safety is critical, given our crime rate and the fact that we are ranked the number one crime city in the country. (I would point out, however, that our crime rate has fallen by 8%, year-to-date compared to last year, and 17% in District 14.)
Fuel and energy costs are increasing significantly, and an additional $27M has been budgeted for this. The sanitation fee will go up about $1/month to pay for the new recycling program with twice/week trash pick-up and twice/month recycling. (We could save $.28 if we went to once/week trash pick up and once/week recycling, like other major Texas cities, but there is not enough support yet to do this).
This budget is much more transparent than previous budgets, and is tied to our strategic plan. In January, the Council, Mayor, City Manager, and top level city staff spent two days developing our strategic plan. We gave staff some very specific goals that we would like to focus on as a city. However, I would like to see a little more specificity in how the budget items respond to our strategic goals. I’d also like to see which, if any, of our strategic goals we aren’t funding.
The most critical program that was not included in the budget is the Single-Room Occupancy Unit program for the homeless ($3M). SROs are a critical component of the City’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. We have a goal of more than 700 such units in ten years, but we only have 130 SROs in Dallas today. For comparison, Houston has over 1000.
Providing permanent housing for the homeless has proven to be the most effective means of addressing the homeless problem. If SROs are one of the cornerstones of our homeless policy, we need to fund them.
I need your input on the budget. Please review the briefing to Council and visit http://www.dallascityhall.com to review the proposed budget. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback and come to one or more of my District 14 budget townhall meetings:
Tuesday, August 22
Woodrow Wilson High School – Auditorium
100 Glasgow Dr.
Tuesday, August 29
St. Thomas Aquinas – Drama Room
3741 Abrams Rd.
(Joint meeting with Gary Griffith)
Tuesday, September 5
Frontiers of Flight Museum
6911 Lemmon Ave.
Tuesday, September 12
3333 Lee Parkway