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Dallas To Approve Controversial New Budget

By BJ Austin

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-763267.mp3

Dallas, TX – The Dallas City Council votes on a new $2.7 billion budget on Wednesday. There is no tax hike and the budget contains some cutbacks, but not as severe as first proposed. KERA's BJ Austin says the budget also contains a new revenue source that will raise eyebrows outside the city limits.

The Dallas City Manager expects $1 million a year from a non-resident emergency response fee. Anyone involved in a crash on a Dallas street or freeway who does not live in Dallas will be billed for police and ambulance response. City officials expect the average fee to be $400 to $600 and told council members during budget deliberations that the bill will probably find its way to the driver's insurance company. Carolyn Gorman, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, says this is a new wrinkle.

Gorman: You know it's new enough that I have never heard it come up at any kind of a meeting. It's just new enough that it has not percolated to the surface. But everyone will begin to share the cost of that through insurance rates.

Gorman says a handful of small cities are doing this. She says she doesn't know if any insurance companies have actually paid such fees yet, and she says a Dallas non-resident emergency response fee will certainly bump up the profile. Plano Mayor Pat Evans says it certainly will not make suburban cities happy, and she predicts they'll respond with fees of their own.