Inside the Numbers As Mary Suhm Tries to Put $32 Million Back in Next Fiscal Year's Budget

Categories: City Hall
As promised, last night the city council received a new FY2011-12 budget update in advance of Wednesday's briefing, the last before summer break. And on the surface, it looks like better news: The $59.3-million shortfall City Manager Mary Suhm predicted in mid-May is now closer to $32.2 million, according to the latest briefing.

Says Suhm, that's because, in part, the anticipated decline in property tax revenue "may not be as great as previously assumed, the state and feds' budget impact "will be less" than anticipated, and the "sale of surplus property and abandonments will occur in FY 2011‐12 and generate additional revenue." And maybe gas won't go as high next year as she thought. It's all a bit ... iffy right now.

And even then, the good news is hardly that: The city manager's still anticipating layoffs (again), while most of the "found" $27.1 million will go toward public safety -- and even then, Suhm still doesn't have the money to add 50 police officers needed through attrition. She also doesn't have the money to maintain and repair streets and sidewalks at the current level, which is already a fraction of a fraction what it should be. Eight of 16 neighborhood pools will be closed; so too 14 rec centers.

Says the briefing, "Park land maintenance [is] funded at 64% of amount funded in current year," which is after years' worth of slashes already. Suhm hopes to get it to 82 percent. The current proposal also doesn't fund 93 positions at the downtown and branch libraries, and once again guts the amount of money spent on new materials -- from $419,730 to $79,573 at the central library; from $1,241,050 to $505,900 in the neighborhoods.

And then there's this:

Suhm is recommending spending $5,302,795 on paying the utility bills at 14 of the city's cultural facilities; that money also includes an "annual payment to support operations & utilities" at the budget-beleaguered AT&T Performing Arts Center and Dallas Black Dance Theater, the latter per a 2005 agreement.

But that $5.3 million also "includes an increase of $1m, from $500k to $1.5m, for ATTPAC," according to the 103-page preliminary budget ranking also sent to council. It doesn't explain the reason for the increase, but in FY2010-11 the city reduced AT&T PAC operations and utility support to $500,000.

Of course, nothing's set in stone yet: Suhm's still pushing solid-waste flow control as a way of generating millions more in revenue; there's another mammoth "Green Path from Trash to Treasure" presentation also scheduled for Wednesday. And the tax rolls won't even be certified for another two weeks.

Budget town halls don't even begin till August and run for a month; public hearings have to take place; and there are at least five more workshops scheduled between now and when the budget has to be adopted September 28.

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While I think it important for the City of Dallas to have quality cultural facilities, however, for the City of Dallas to continue putting more and more operating funds into to these facilities on top of the taxpayer capital funds used in part to support development, is a prescription for fiscal disaster.  In a recent DMN editorial, it suggested that departmental mismanagement contributed in part to the lack of planning, use, etc of certain facilities, I would offer it is not mismanagement at the department level, but incompetence at City Council and City Management that would allow open ended operating agreements for with the city taxpayers will pay out the nose for years to come.  We have overbuilt performance facilities in this market, too few products to fill and venues that appeal to a narrow part of our population.    Dallas Observer should look into where the attendees for the events at the cultural venues owned by the City of Dallas come would be informative to see who enjoys these taxpayer funded venues yet pay no city of Dallas property tax.

W,e as a city, were quick to say that taxpayers should not have participated in funding Jerry's world, yet we have no problem in taxpayer funding for performance venues.

Ed D.
Ed D.

All the money must go to the Maggies while we gut libraries, parks, police, and city services.

"Dallas: our bridges to nowhere are world-class!"


It would be nice if she paid the fucking electric bill at ATT PAC. I sweated through 3 hours at Billy Elliot Wednesday night. It's bad enough the seats there were designed by a nazi midget.

Spend, baby, Spend!
Spend, baby, Spend!

So why is Parks Dept. putting in more and more sprinkler lines and high-maintenance flower beds in Exall Park?

Why is the airconditioning running non-stop during 4-day furlough/holiday weekends at Exall Park Rec Center?  Even to the point that one of the 4 massive air cond. compressors broke last weekend and had to be completely replaced.  That can't be cheap.

It's like this park and rec center have some sort of unlimited spending budget.  '

Oh, wait....the do----YOUR tax dollars. 

Let's ask Angela Hunt why last year they laid many lines of sprinkler systems just to reach out to some flower bed they put in for growing cheap annuals.  The flowers are being  replanted over and over again with each season.  And, every time the park is mowed, the sprinkler system lines are broken and crews must come out over and over to repair. 

Then someone thought it was a great idea to water those areas and all the grass around them about 3 times a week.  Now the weeds/grass grow like ....well, like weeds--but they don't mow the park but every 3-4 weeks so we have knee high weeds growing everywhere.

Is anyone at all paying any attention to the overspending in the parks Dept?

The trash piles up every day in the park. 

All we need is litter picked up and lawn mowed.  Times are tough and we need to quit blowing our tax dollars.


It's this same continued CoD bullshit, year after year, that makes me want to move the hell out of Dallas proper and give my tax dollars to the likes of Collin, Denton, or Tarrant County. This is one seriously mismanaged city.


I know where 10 million is-that money the city council wasted trying to put suspension accents on what was to be the 2nd suspension bridge.   How can a city, during a budget shortfall this year and last, waste 10 million dollars on this.  I wonder what other things the city is wasting money on (not to mention all those consultants and studies trying to keep the troll road alive. I do not trust city hall (or any branches of our local government-county and DISD) to manage their affairs correctly.

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