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Newly re-elected Miller hammers out priorities

By Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: Miller said priorities for her first full term will be like the ones she entered with in February, 2002 - basic services.

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller: Code enforcement, code enforcement, and code enforcement. Last year, I jumped on housing, and this year it's code enforcement. I really want to know why we just can't seem to enforce the codes in this city. Generally, people believe we don't go out and enforce codes. That'll be a big focus.

Zeeble: Another focus, said Miller, will be action on the 17 bond proposals overwhelmingly passed by Dallas voters Saturday.

Miller: There are so many exciting things in the city right now. The bond vote was unbelievable. I'm going to be getting in a car and going to look at a facility for that homeless central intake facility. I've got to get that off the ground. We've got to do the downtown revitalization. We've got to make sure the Trinity; the people start seeing the first bridge under construction. Then we get the lakes done.

Zeeble: As for the timetable, Miller expects the first bonds to be issued in November, with work starting shortly after that.

Miller: I talked this morning with the manager about the animal shelter. A lot of people have been waiting a long time and we've got to move on that. I think you'll see things happening this fall. Streets. I would hope the bonds would be issued yesterday. That is a major thing and that'll be the most exciting thing. Obviously, that did the best on the voting - the streets - and for good reason, because everyone wants their streets repaired.

Zeeble: Miller said there are also pressing concerns like balancing the budget. She wants to avoid last year's battles with police firefighters and city workers over pay, and benefit cuts that still rankle Dallas employees.

Miller: I'd like it if by the time of summer break, that we were already on board and had a solution to the budget problem. Starting next week, I'm going to start meeting with city employees and say hey, this is the number we need to get to, whether 20 million or 30 million. This is the shortfall. Tell us, how we should get to it? Give me your ideas, how should we get there? How do you want to do this? What do employees want to see happen? Two employees from every department will come in and meet with me and will come in and discuss how to resolve the budget. It's a good time to complain about how we did it last year and I think that's a good way for us to move forward.

Zeeble: The mayor said she generally favors open discussion of tough issues, and will take that approach with the council in determining the fate of City Manager Ted Banavides, whom she's criticized.

Miller: I think I need to have a conversation with the council about where we are in terms of management, city services delivery, and other issues we all care about. I will continue to stick to my guns and say we need more accountability; and we need to make sure citizens feel we're spending their money appropriately, and that hasn't been the case around here in my opinion, but I've been real clear about that.

Zeeble: Miller also believes these positions explain why voters just re-elected her. Inauguration ceremonies are set for June 9th. For KERA 90.1, I'm Bill Zeeble.

Email Bill Zeeble about this story.