Mayor Johnson: Here are my top priorities this budget season
Through the next budget, the Dallas City Council can provide even greater safety and opportunity for you and your family.
The following was adapted from my email newsletter. To subscribe, visit mayorofdallas.org
The Dallas City Council officially returns from its July recess on Monday, and that means budget season is right around the corner.
Remember, the way this works is that the city manager will initially propose the budget, and then it will be up to the Dallas City Council to ensure the final version reflects your priorities.
This will be an especially critical budget season for this city. To paraphrase Moody’s Analytics, Dallas had a remarkable 2021. This city led the nation out of the economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And thanks to the groundwork laid over the last three years, Dallas is primed for continued growth in the future.
Take, for example, the major economic wins that this city has seen recently. Dallas just scored two more victories with a deal that will keep Neiman Marcus in the city limits and with the opening of the new Kroger Customer Fulfillment Center in southern Dallas. This new Kroger facility, which was one of the first economic development deals passed during my administration, will mean hundreds of new jobs, more economic growth, and access to fresh groceries for all the city’s communities.
Together, over the last three years, we have built a safer, stronger, more vibrant, more dynamic, and more resilient city.
But it is also clear that the city government still has many basic needs to address. And as the sole citywide elected official, it is crucial to advocate for an annual budget that reflects the best interests of all Dallas residents.
Ahead of the August and September budget talks, here’s what ought to be among the top priorities for the coming fiscal year, which begins October 1:
- Public safety: The budget should maintain or even increase the city’s police officer hiring goals; allocate funding for crime-fighting technology; fund and scale programs recommended by the Task Force on Safe Communities; set aside money for hate-crime prevention and awareness efforts; and provide additional support for firefighters’ health, safety, and equipment needs.
- Property tax relief: It is imperative that a tax-rate reduction is included in the city manager’s proposed budget considering soaring property values. Seniors’ homestead exemptions will again increase this year after a Dallas City Council vote earlier this year. But an across-the-board tax-rate reduction for all homeowners and renters — who bear the hidden cost burdens of hundreds of dollars every month in property taxes as part of their rent — is in the best interest of residents and this city’s growth in the years ahead.
- Code Compliance: The budget should include a greater investment in code enforcement to address ongoing and increased needs and areas of concern, such as short-term rentals, food trucks, blight remediation, environmental issues, and parking requirements.
- Streets and sidewalks: The Dallas City Council should commit to funding streets to at least a net-zero degradation level, to implementing the Sidewalk Master Plan, and to replacing aging traffic signals. Those efforts should also be prioritized primarily in infrastructure deserts in traditionally underserved and overlooked communities — particularly in the areas where the Dallas Police Department has focused its violent-crime reduction efforts.
- Inspector General: The Dallas City Council last December voted unanimously for my historic ethics reform proposal, which included the creation of the city’s first-ever Inspector General Division. With the inspector general now in place, the new office should be fully funded to ensure it is able to effectively monitor, investigate, and prosecute any unethical behavior in city government.
Dallas is the place to be right now. And through the next fiscal year’s budget, the Dallas City Council can provide even greater safety and opportunity for you and your family.
That’s it for today. Hope you’re staying cool and safe this summer! More updates soon!