Proposed $ 4.35 billion budget would increase policing, reduce environmental and homeless budgets
City manager TC Broadnax unveiled the proposed $ 4.35 billion budget for the next fiscal year on Saturday, calling it one of the most impactful budgets he has recommended to city council since he began his work in 2017.
The proposed budget exceeds the budget adopted last September by more than $ 500 million, boosted by federal funds and a larger-than-expected influx of property tax and sales tax revenues. It proposes a number of significant investments aimed at improving the city’s services, infrastructure and quality of life while reducing property tax rates for the sixth year in a row. It also dramatically increases public security spending.
During a roundtable discussion with the press, public safety issues were the main priorities highlighted by Broadnax. The proposed budget includes funds to hire an additional 250 police officers, 61 911 call center positions and an expansion of the Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Team (RIGHT) care program, among other public safety initiatives. The plan increases the Dallas Police Department’s general fund budget by approximately $ 53 million, for a total of $ 567 million. This is the largest increase in spending of any department, the second being Dallas Fire-Rescue with an increase of $ 20 million.
Meanwhile, other ministries are seeing cuts in their general budgets. Just over $ 450,000 is cut from the current $ 12.4 million budget for the Office of Homeless Solutions, while the $ 4.2 million budget for the Office of Quality and Sustainability is The environment is reduced by nearly $ 400,000.
These cuts occur at a time when a impending deportation crisis threatens around 60% of tenants in Dallas and recent United Nations report concludes that global warming will gradually worsen and cannot be stopped for the next 30 years.
While the Office of Homeless Solutions is seeing a general cut in funds, the plan also offers some $ 25 million in federal grants for a quick relocation program and $ 10 million to encourage affordable housing development.
The City will continue to operate the $ 100 million rental assistance program aimed at stabilizing housing for residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants can apply to www.dallasrentrelief.com. An additional amount of $ 500,000 will be allocated to the Deportation Assistance Initiative to support tenants in need of legal services.
As for the environment, the plan proposes $ 1 million for investments in solar panels on city facilities, $ 1 million for air quality monitors and the supply of 2,500 trees to reduce the heat island effect.
The council will discuss and debate the budget before it is approved. Each member will organize public events to hear from voters. City council will adopt a final spending plan on September 22. The next fiscal year will begin on October 1.
The Dallas Police Department saw the largest departmental budget increase, about $ 53 million. Broadnax proposes to hire 250 additional police officers, 125 more than expected but 25 less than requested by Mayor Eric Johnson. He is also proposing to increase the overtime budget by $ 14 million, hire 61 additional 911 call center workers and replace around 144 patrol cars.
These are all aimed at reducing the response time and response time to critical 911 calls, tasks the Dallas Police Department has struggled to complete over the past year as it has faced challenges. staff shortages due to COVID-19.
But Broadnax also noted that some work would be moved from the police department: the fire department lane, disabled parking violations and street blockades – which account for about 3% of police calls – would all be handled by the lane. hiring of 42 new Transport departments. employees.
Dallas Fire-Rescue saw the second largest budget increase, around $ 20 million. The plan proposes to hire fourteen new paramedics to help RIGHT Care teams and $ 2 million to add five RIGHT Care teams to answer mental health-related calls.
Infrastructure and transport
The proposal provides $ 300 million to repav 1,700 miles of pavement and $ 15 million in sidewalk projects over two years. It also projects that $ 14 million will be spent over three years to replace 100 traffic lights and $ 5 million to redraw 974 miles of markers and paint 830 crosswalks. $ 500,000 is proposed for street calming efforts to reduce speeding and accidents, while $ 200,000 is earmarked for a pilot program to reduce street racing.
The plan offers $ 40 million in internet infrastructure and $ 3 million to add WiFi to 63 parks across the city. One-time $ 8.8 million investment proposed using American Rescue Plan Act would turn 40 unimproved lanes into safe, well-lit trails
Environment and sustainability
While the pace of global climate change sounds the alarm bells for scientists, the city’s budget does not appear to share the same level of concern. As mentioned earlier, the city’s major strengths represent less than $ 3 million in spending: $ 1 million for investments in solar panels on city facilities, $ 1 million for quality monitors in the city. air, $ 200,000 for a food and agriculture plan and the supply of 2,500 trees. .
The plan proposes to reallocate 15 staff to establish a small business center that would include programs focused on minority / women owned businesses and help formerly incarcerated people re-enter the workforce. It also proposes to increase funding for community financial empowerment centers offering financial support and other services.
Housing and homelessness
Despite the reduction in the Office of Homeless Solutions budget, the plan proposes to allocate $ 25 million in federal grants to a rapid relocation program, which would roll out home navigation services, homeowner incentives, grants. rent, move-in kits and case management to reduce and prevent homelessness, in partnership with Dallas County, the Dallas Housing Authority, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance and other cities in Dallas County.
It also offers $ 10 million in grants for water and sewer infrastructure to encourage developers to build affordable housing.
The City will continue to operate the $ 100 million rent assistance program aimed at stabilizing housing for residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants can apply to www.dallasrentrelief.com. An additional amount of $ 500,000 will be allocated to the Deportation Assistance Initiative to support tenants in need of legal services.
Reduce property taxes
The plan proposes property tax relief by increasing the exemption for those over 65 / disabled from $ 100,000 to $ 107,000 and reducing the property tax rate from 77.63 to 77.33 per $ 100 evaluation. This would allow the typical homeowner a median value of $ 6.14 on their tax bill and cost the city $ 4.6 million in tax revenue.
Higher compensation and benefits
The proposal includes an increase in the minimum wage for all city employees up to $ 15.50, an increase in starting wages for drivers and sanitation contractors, and the provision of six weeks of paid parental leave for all. full-time city employees. The plan also calls for an increase in starting salaries for police and firefighters, from $ 61,367 to $ 64,194. All of these elements aim to improve the city’s ability to attract and retain quality employees, as well as to improve the consistency of services. As part of this plan, the city is proposing a garbage service charge increase of $ 3.78.