At the end of September, the Dallas City Council will vote on next year’s budget. I will be holding four townhall meetings to explain the proposed budget and get your input. I’m writing to invite you to my upcoming meetings, but more importantly, to update you on the challenges we’re facing.
The current economy has left no one unscathed, including our city. Next year, we anticipate that the money the city collects from property taxes, sales taxes, and city fees will be down significantly. As a result, the city will have to tighten its belt.
Last week, the City Manager presented her proposed budget to the City Council. The council will now review and revise this budget. I have been analyzing the City Manager’s proposal very carefully, and here are some of the highlights:
- No property tax rate increase
- Hire 191 police officers (91 w/federal grants, 100 w/city funds)
- Invest $106M bond funds in major street improvements; continue basic street repairs, but eliminate slurry seal
- Reduce median and park mowing from 2 weeks to 3 weeks
- Reduce tree trimming and litter programs
- Add $500k to Code Compliance for more code officers
- Cut library hours (40 hrs/wk for branches; 44 hrs/wk for central)
- Cut rec center hours (45 hrs/wk for large; 30 hrs/wk for small)
- Close 14 out of 21 pools
- Consolidate city depts. from 31 to 22 (combining Development Services w/Building Inspection, and Library w/Cultural Affairs)
- Go to citywide once-a-week trash and recycling pick-up
- Reduce employee pay by 2% via five unpaid vacation days
- Reduce 311 call-taking from 24/7/365 to 7am-7pm Mon.-Fri.
- Contract with non-profit to manage zoo (most top zoos in country are managed this way, as are many city-owned facilities)
- Lay off 840 employees (including 165 non-uniformed police employees)
I have some concerns about this budget, and will continue to review it and analyze it over the coming weeks. My goal is to realize as many efficiencies as possible, limit the long-term damage of these deep cuts, and develop a good “exit strategy” as we come out of this downturn.
We will have to weather this economic storm together, make some tough choices, and sacrifice some city services in the short-term. I deeply value your input, so please review the proposed budget at www.dallascityhall.com. I’ll also post my analysis in upcoming blogs.