Dallas approves budget that includes more funding for police and a lower property tax rate
The Dallas City Council voted unanimously to approve a budget not to exceed about $4.8 billion and lower the property tax rate after an unexpected vote delay.
The vote on the tax rate and budget was supposed to happen a week earlier but got rescheduled because of issues with rules. The city didn’t properly advertise the required public hearing for the budget. The council can’t vote on the budget until there’s a hearing on it, and it can’t approve the tax rate until the budget is approved.
All that led to the budget and tax rate votes happening a week late and a few days before the fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
The budget includes an increase in funding for public safety and money for the city’s racial equity plan. The additional expenditures would be funded by an increase in revenue from sales and property taxes and federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Dallas mayor Eric Johnson praised city manager T.C. Broadnax for his work on the budget.
“This is the best budget I have seen since I’ve been mayor of this city,” Johnson said
The city also lowered the property tax rate to 74.58 cents per $100 of a home’s value. But appraised home values have increased, so most homeowners in Dallas won’t see a lower number on their tax bill.
Johnson said it was the largest tax rate cut in modern Dallas history. But Council member Cara Mendelsohn said she was disappointed in the tax rate.
"The tax rate could have been, and should have been, lower," she said.
Dallas residents will also see an increase in their city water, storm drainage and sanitation fees. The sanitation fee will go up to $35.81 a month, and the storm drainage fee will go up by 40 cents. Waste and wastewater fees will go up to an average of about $70 a month. Fees are going up because of rising gas prices, new equipment costs and to pay for the $3 increase in minimum wage for city employees.
Johnson said the budget prioritizes public safety. The Dallas Police Department's budget is $612 million — that’s an increase of more than $40 million. The added funding includes 250 more officers and financial incentives to keep officers who are about to retire for another year. The police department is also creating a night detail team for the city’s entertainment district, where businesses are concerned about crime.
The approved budget also includes funding to implement the city’s racial equity plan, which was approved in August. The plan addresses the city’s racist history by using city resources to reduce racial disparities.
Other items included in the budget:
Transportation and Infrastructure
- Investing more into the City’s infrastructure for streets, alleys, bridges, and sidewalks.
- Hire more permit clerks for the city’s building permit process to improve the customers’ experience.
- Initiate the master plan for Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.
Environment and Sustainability
- Protect the city's tree canopy and slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer.
- Invest in environmental justice and remediation efforts.
Housing and Homeless Solutions
- Protect people experiencing homelessness during inclement weather
- Launch a Homeless Action Response Team.
Alejandra Martinez contributed reporting.
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Caroline Love is a Report For America corps member for KERA News.
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