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A question for Dallas council members on Friday: Is $1 billion not enough for the 2024 bond package?

Dallas city council members during a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Dallas City Hall.
Yfat Yossifor
Three Dallas City Council members requested a special called meeting to discuss the 2024 bond package. That's after Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson cancelled a January briefing due to attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The Dallas City Council is set to discuss on Friday whether to significantly increasea proposed bond package that is already topping $1 billion — and when voters will get an opportunity to vote on it.

Dallas voters also will ultimately decide on is how to spend the $1.1 billion dollar bond budget. Last year the council heard two recommendations that differed vastly in their allocations.

A 15-member city council appointed Community Bond Taskforce worked for months to develop a recommendation that allocated nearly a third of the bond capacity to the city's parks and recreation centers.

But Dallas city staff's recommendations prioritized street maintenance, infrastructure and housing over parks and recreation.

“Constituents throughout the city are deeply concerned about the investments in our streets, the continued expansion and upgrades to our city’s park infrastructure…Addressing these concerns through the 2024 bond is pivotal to the overall well-being and safety of our communities,” an early January memo said.

The memo calling for Friday's meeting was signed by District 9 Council Member Paula Blackmon, District 5 Council Member Jaime Resendez and District 7 Council Member Adam Bazaldua — and comes after one of three January council briefings was cancelled.

According to a city memo, Dallas Major Eric Johnson requested the originally scheduled meeting be cancelled for “official city business” — visiting the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

But at least three council members say it is crucial to have the bond discussions early. Especially if the council wants to put the billion dollar allocations in front of Dallas voters during a May election.

If the election isn’t called by mid-February, it will have to wait until November — and it would be on the ballot with state proposals and choosing the next president of the United States.

Another memo from the three members also says the council is planning on going into “a committee of the whole” after the briefings to consider when the bond election will be — and whether to increase the bond capacity to $1.25 billion.

But the memo also says there is a chance not everyone will attend, leading to the council having no quorum at the meeting — a requirement to have any official discussion around the dais.

“However, given that this is a special called meeting and speakers will be attending, we would like to allow those speakers to address councilmembers who are present,” the memo said.

There are over 20 public speakers currently registered to speak at Friday’s meeting. Nearly all of them are signed up to speak about the bond package — and a majority of those are representing a park, trail or nature organization, according to city records.

The discussion slated for Friday comes after a long road to getting the initial recommendations. Simultaneously, there has been a months-long campaign by Johnson and others in Dallas to increase the funding for parks in the city.

Johnson has previously claimed that taxpayers get more band for their buck with parks and recreation investments than anything else.

And the bond task force's recommendation mirrored Johnson's enthusiasm for increasing greenspaces in Dallas.

There are at least six Dallas Parks and Recreation Board members who also served on the bond task force. That includes Arun Agarwal who was appointed by Jonson to lead the group. Agarwal is also the president of the city’s park board.

City staff’s recommendation prioritized street infrastructure and housing.

The briefing scheduled for Friday could spark contentious debate from council members who end up attending the meeting. But if there is no quorum, members of the public will still have a chance to make their opinions known to some city officials.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

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Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.