Mayor Johnson outlines top priorities ahead of August budget talks
The mayor emphasized the need to provide tax relief while investing in public safety, code enforcement, infrastructure, and the new inspector general.
DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday released his top priorities for the next fiscal year’s budget.
Mayor Johnson sent his top five general fund priorities in a memo to City Manager T.C. Broadnax. The city manager is expected to deliver his proposed budget by Aug. 6. The Dallas City Council in the subsequent weeks will then discuss, amend, and vote on the budget, which takes effect Oct. 1.
The mayor said the budget is the single most important vote the City Council takes every year, and that the upcoming fiscal year will be “consequential” for Dallas.
“Our city led the nation out of the economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Johnson said. “And thanks to the groundwork we have laid over the last three years, we are primed for continued growth in the years ahead.
“I have been proud of our efforts to build a safer, stronger, more vibrant, more dynamic, and more resilient city. But it is clear that our city government still has many basic needs to address. And as the sole citywide elected official, it is my responsibility to advocate for an annual budget that reflects the best interests of our entire city.”
Here are the priorities the mayor outlined in his memo:
- Public safety: Mayor Johnson earlier this month outlined several public safety initiatives to help make Dallas safer. In the new memo sent Thursday, Mayor Johnson requested that the budget maintain or even increase the city’s police officer hiring goals; allocate funding for crime-fighting technology; fund and scale programs recommended by the Mayor’s 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: Mayor Johnson wrote that it was “imperative that a tax-rate reduction is included” in the city manager’s proposed budget considering soaring property values. “I am pleased that we have already supported increasing the senior homestead exemption this year, and I believe 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 our residents and our city’s growth in the years ahead,” Mayor Johnson said in his memo.
- Code Compliance: Mayor Johnson requested “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 mayor requested a continued commitment to funding streets to at least a net-zero degradation level, to implementing the Sidewalk Master Plan, and to replacing aging traffic signals. The mayor also requested that the city’s efforts be focused primarily on 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 the mayor’s historic ethics reform proposal, which included the creation of the city’s first-ever Inspector General Division. With the inspector general now in place, Mayor Johnson called for fully funding the new office to ensure it is able to effectively monitor, investigate, and prosecute any unethical behavior in city government.
The mayor’s priorities included only discretionary general fund items that are paid for primarily through taxpayer dollars rather than fees for services. In his memo, Mayor Johnson also called for a continued focus on other top issues, such as permitting improvements, which are paid for through an enterprise fund.
“Dallas is the place to be right now,” Mayor Johnson said. “And through the next fiscal year’s budget, we can provide even greater safety and opportunity for our city’s residents.”