The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved a first reading of next year’s budget. The group signed off on City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s amended plan, this one set to hold the tax rate steady.
The new version does away with previously proposed cuts to social and senior services, a top concern voiced at a public hearing last week, and puts into place a handful of other thoughts from Council members. It adds funding for a fire ladder truck at Fire Station 18, youth and after-school programs, an additional football game at the State Fair, and programs for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.
The new budget puts the tax rate no higher than last year’s 77.67 cents per $100 of valuation. Broadnax at first wanted to hike it to 78 cents. The difference between the two rates equals about $8 on the property tax bill for a $300,000 house.
Contrary to last Wednesday, this week’s budget hearing featured no public speakers. Instead, much of the morning’s discussion went to North Dallas Councilman Lee Kleinman’s dozens of proposed cuts. Kleinman has advocated for lowering the tax rate in order to keep individual tax bills consistent with last year, accounting for increasing property valuations.
To do so, he proposed a whopping 37 amendments to Broadnax’s plan. He lowered funding to the offices of Homeless Solutions, Business Diversity, Community Care, Police Oversight, Environmental Quality, Ethics and Compliance, Historic Preservation, and Innovation, among others. He proposed ending a dental benefit for seniors and cutting from Dallas PD by eliminating squad car purchases and the mounted (horse) unit. He also proposed cutting the mayor’s intern program. Find the full list here.
Some of the cuts, Kleinman explained, were aimed at eliminating bloat within under-performing or simply over-funded departments. Several were unpopular around the horseshoe. The cuts to Homeless Solutions elicited some groans. “I can’t imagine anything worse to do,” said Far North Dallas Council member Cara Mendelsohn. “We’re underfunding homelessness as a city, county, and state.” And on the point of cutting dental, Oak Cliff Council member Carolyn King Arnold said, “I’m just insulted that we would talk about short-circuiting seniors.”
Others started conversations that may lead to something down the road. Kleinman wants the city to eliminate funding for school crossing guards, arguing that the financial responsibility should fall to school districts. He received some Council support, but nobody was willing to abruptly transfer the burden to Dallas ISD.
The final budget will come up for approval on September 18.