5 Ways To Make Your Voice Heard As Dallas Shapes Its Budget
City of Dallas residents have a chance to share their opinion on how the city should spend its money, but the clock is ticking.
The City Council has just a few weeks left to act on community feedback before it votes on the budget.
The city budget lists priorities and outlines the ways it will provide services that impact residents’ daily life, like the police, fire and emergency services, as well as streets and parks, libraries and cultural facilities. Some suggestions include providing more support to individuals experiencing homelessness, expanding broadband access to help bridge the digital divide and hiring more people to staff the 911 call center, as well as 250 additional police officers.
The city manager released a proposed $4.35 billion budget detailing recommendations on how to spend taxpayer dollars and federal funds during the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. In the proposed budget, $1.5 billion would go to transportation and infrastructure and more than $1 billion would go to public safety.
Residents provide input that the City Council uses to recommend changes or amendments to the budget. Here are five ways to weigh in:
1. Get To Know Your Council Member
The city is split up into 14 political districts, which is represented by one of the city's 14 City Council Members. Members are elected by residents and they serve two-year terms.
Identifying who your council member is an important first step to understanding what the city is providing and prioritizing. You can do that here.
2. Contact Your Council Member
During the city budget process, council members are tasked with weighing all the information they receive from residents and staff before recommending changes or amendments. While they make the final decision on what goes into the budget, residents have a say in that process.
One way to share what city services you care about the most is by emailing or calling your council member. You can find the full list of contact information here.
3. Attend A Virtual Town Hall
This is the last week you can give city leaders feedback on the city budget. Dallas City Council Members are hosting virtual, in-person and telephone town hall meetings until Aug. 26. At these town halls, council members go over their priorities and then open up a discussion with attendees. Click here to find what town halls are coming up.
4. Join A Community Group
There are many groups that are actively participating in the city budget process. Last year, the all-volunteer organization Our City Our Future unveiled a document with a list of their demands outlining where they want to see city dollars invested.
The citizens group has called on the city to slash $200 million from the police budget and distribute it to other city services like mental health, housing, homeless assistance programs and public places.
5. Let Us Know What You Care About
The City Council will discuss the city budget throughout the rest of the month and will adopt a final spending plan on Sept. 22. But between now and then, KERA wants to hear from you and report on the issues you care about.
Journalism serves as a public 'watchdog' by monitoring the political process in order to ensure that politicians carry out voters' wishes and keep them accountable. You can let us know what matters to you by filling out the form below.
Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.
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