Mayor Johnson: We’re building a better city budget
And how Dallas is looking at competing for pro sports teams.
The following was adapted from my email newsletter.
Discussions about the annual budget — the single most important document that comes up for a Dallas City Council vote every year — are wrapping up soon.
And things this year are coming together nicely, which was one of the topics I covered in an interview — one that you really won’t want to miss — on NBC5’s Lone Star Politics.
This upcoming budget will include the largest single-year tax-rate reduction in modern Dallas history. It fully funds an Inspector General’s office that can investigate corruption and enforce the city’s newly strengthened ethics policies. It provides the necessary funding to continue to improve this city’s infrastructure. And this budget makes clear that public safety remains the top priority by making key investments in community-based solutions, data-driven policing, more robust code enforcement efforts, and improvements for Dallas Fire-Rescue.
A new meet-and-confer agreement has also received tentative approval from police and fire associations, which means that Dallas police officers and firefighters are on track to continue receiving the competitive pay and benefits they deserve.
This administration’s relentless focus on public safety is why, as former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert wrote in an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, during “a time when many cities led by extreme policies are seeing dramatic increases in crime, particularly violent crime, we stand nearly alone in witnessing declining crime.”
Just know that when this budget is finalized, it will not be perfect. No budget is. But it’s the best one that I have seen in the last three years.
And there are still some opportunities to make this budget even better.
I decided to propose two amendments this week. The first will create a $3 million fund for a program that will help provide affordable housing and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. The second will provide nearly $3 million in additional funding for Dallas Fire-Rescue vehicles and facility repairs — especially for basic needs such as air conditioning upgrades and structural repairs at aging fire stations.
Both of these amendments will help move this city forward in high-priority areas. Homelessness is a complex and growing issue across the nation that will require more attention and focus in the year ahead from the city and its governmental and nonprofit partners. And Dallas Fire-Rescue’s facilities and equipment problems have lingered for far too long.
The Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday on these amendments and others, but the city manager has moved the final vote on the budget to the September 28 meeting.
And that will be that — a budget that reflects your priorities. The new fiscal year begins on October 1.
The business of sports
Last week, the Dallas City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention met for the first time. And while news reporters mostly wanted to talk about the Dallas Cowboys, football wasn’t on the agenda.
The committee heard an analysis of the American Airlines Center’s positive economic impact on Dallas; an analysis of how sports developments can and should be leveraged to build a stronger city (as well as the potential pitfalls to avoid); and how the Dallas Open tennis tournament came to this city and how it can grow in the years ahead.
Tennis pro John Isner also joined the Dallas Open presentation, which was a treat for the committee.
These are great discussions to have. Dallas is an amazing city for sports and for all economic development opportunities. This city is home to diverse cultures and a diverse economy. Eleven Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Dallas city limits, and 14 more are based in this region. Dallas boasts incredible assets and presents amazing opportunities for any business. And this city is the economic and cultural engine that drives the fourth-largest and fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States.
When it comes to sports, however, the City of Dallas too often plays a supporting role in its own backyard to smaller neighboring cities. In fact, it’s clear that the City of Arlington, the City of Frisco, the City of Grand Prairie, and the City of McKinney have been cornering the market on the sports and live entertainment business in this region slowly and over many years.
The City of Dallas, meanwhile, hasn’t kept up, even though the franchises in this area often claim “Dallas” in their branding. And far too frequently, Dallas isn’t even truly in the conversation. That needs to change.
As with every other aspect of the city’s economic development strategy, it’s time for the City of Dallas to assert itself more aggressively locally, nationally, and internationally. This city must compete on every front for every viable industry. And this city can’t do that with the sports business unless it’s treated as a priority at Dallas City Hall.
That’s what this committee is about. It’s long past time for the City of Dallas to play to win these franchises and events. That means the committee must develop a game plan that enhances this city’s competitiveness.
Last week’s meeting was a great start to that effort. Stay tuned for more.
Honoring Queen Elizabeth II
Thank you to the British Consulate for working with my office to set up this opportunity for Dallas residents. It was an honor to be asked to sign the book.
Dallas is truly an international city, and it demonstrated that once again last week.
That’s all the updates for today. But, speaking of queens, happy birthday again, mom! Love you so much!
Have a great week, folks. Talk again soon.