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This Year's Budget May Mean Better Days for Dallas

For the first time in four years, city of Dallas employees are getting pay raises – up to 1.5 percent based on job performance.

The 2013 budget approved by the city council today keeps the tax rate the same, but raises water rates.

The budget does not include additional funds for mosquito control after the worst West Nile virus outbreak ever.

Council member Linda Koop says the city will wait for a report from the Centers for Disease Control before reworking strategy and spending money.  

“I don’t know that it will take a budget amendment, but I do know that we’ll be talking about getting a strategy out to the public much sooner than we did this year, and evaluating the processes much sooner with the CDC,” Koop said.

For Dallas residents, water bills will go up about four percent October first.  That’s an additional $3.60 a month on average. Sanitation fees stay the same.

And the city is hiring, not firing:  200 new police officers; 90 firefighters; and 57 additional positions in Building Inspection in response to an increase in construction activity.

The city manager says higher sales and property tax revenue has allowed the city to turn the corner on a series of bad budget years.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.