Mayor Johnson votes in favor of budget focused on public safety, basic city services
“Today, we put public safety first.”
DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Wednesday voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2021–2022 city budget, which includes funding for many of his top priorities.
The city council approved the budget on second reading with a 13–2 vote. The budget takes effect Oct. 1. The general fund is more than $1.5 billion. The total budget, which includes self-sustaining enterprise funds and federal money, is about $4.3 billion.
The mayor also lauded the city council for voting 12–3 in favor of his amendment to fully restore $10 million that had been stripped from the police overtime budget by a previous amendment two weeks ago.
“Today, we put public safety first,” Mayor Johnson said. “I thank my colleagues for supporting my amendment and for backing our efforts to make our city safer. While no budget is perfect, we are providing the resources that our police chief needs to be successful while also supporting community-based initiatives that can help reduce crime and strengthen our neighborhoods.”
Mayor Johnson had voted against the Fiscal Year 2020–2021 budget last year because it cut the number of police officers, significantly reduced police overtime, denied market-rate salary increases to first responders, cut into police squad car replacements, underfunded streets, and provided little property tax relief to homeowners. That budget passed by a 9–6 vote.
This year, Mayor Johnson called for prioritizing the Back to Basics agenda in the budget. During the summer, he announced many of his top budget priorities, which the city manager largely incorporated into his proposed budget that was released in August. The mayor and city councilmembers worked together on amendments to modify the proposed budget to include other high-priority items.
The Fiscal Year 2021–2022 budget, as approved, calls for major enhancements and investments in public safety, infrastructure, homelessness services, economic development, neighborhood revitalization, sanitation services, and other key areas. The budget also reduces the property tax rate — Mayor Johnson has voted for tax-rate reductions in every budget since he took office — and provides additional tax relief for senior and disabled homeowners through an expansion of their homestead exemption.
“We are making vital investments in our basic services and in the people of Dallas,” Mayor Johnson said. “We still have much more work to do to reach our full potential, and the city council must ensure that city staff is properly implementing our priorities that we have identified in this budget. But this budget allows us to begin to get back to basics and to build for the future of our great city.”
Here is a breakdown of the highest priority budget enhancements that Mayor Johnson supported:
- Hiring 250 police officers — an increase of 100 officers over the planned budget that passed last year.
- Providing market-based pay increases for police and firefighters to encourage retention and remain competitive with surrounding cities.
- Hiring 62 additional staff members for the 911 call center and increasing their pay in light of years of issues with long call holding times.
- Purchasing dozens of new police squad cars to help increase police presence and efficiency.
- Continuing the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities programs, which include blight remediation, lighting improvements in high-crime areas, and violence interruption services.
- Increasing the size of the police overtime budget.
- Implementing efficiency measures to help reduce reliance on police overtime.
- Shifting the responsibility of disabled/fire lane parking enforcement and street blockage clearance to the Transportation Department, which will free up police officers.
- Training all firefighters to serve as paramedics as demand for medical services increases.
- Replacing dozens of aging Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulances.
- Addressing street racing and unsafe driving through traffic calming in neighborhoods and a street racing remediation pilot project.
- Expanding the RIGHT Care program to boost the city’s ability to address mental health crises.
- Reducing the property tax rate by 0.3 cents per $100 valuation.
- Expanding the senior/disabled homestead exemption to $107,000.
Streets and infrastructure
- Repairing streets by fully funding the net-zero degradation level called for in the city’s Infrastructure Management Program.
- Implementing the Sidewalk Master Plan and targeting high-priority areas for sidewalk repairs.
- Replacing 100 traffic signals and associated crosswalks.
- Restriping 974 miles of lane markings and painting 830 crosswalks to improve visibility.
- Replacing 1,000 outdated school zone flashing beacons with state-of-the-art technology to protect students as they walk to school.
Environment and sustainability
- Developing a plan to dredge White Rock Lake.
- Continuing implementation of the city’s Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan, including the installation of solar panels at city facilities.
- Continuing to plant trees across the city.
- Providing pay increases to attract and retain Sanitation workers.
- Investing in additional contracts to enhance bulky trash and brush pickup.
Housing and homelessness
- Contributing to a regional rapid re-housing program to significantly reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in Dallas.
- Incentivizing developers to build affordable housing by subsidizing water and sewer infrastructure required for new affordable units.
- Expanding home repair efforts to target historically underserved neighborhoods in the city.
- Continuing to deploy more than $100 million in rental assistance to stabilize housing for residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic and neighborhood development
- Expanding broadband internet access in underserved parts of the city.
- Establishing a Small Business Center to increase business diversity and to help implement Mayor Johnson’s task force recommendations related to workforce development and innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Working to implement the city’s comprehensive economic development policy, including the creation of a new Economic Development Corporation.
- Streamlining the troubled permitting process.
- Hiring 31 additional Code Compliance officers and three supervisors to help address issues in Dallas neighborhoods.
- Restoring park maintenance funding and park partner stipends that had been reduced in the previous budget.
- Providing additional park security through City Marshals.
- Adding Wi-Fi to 63 geographically dispersed park locations in high-priority ZIP codes.