As Council Prepares to Review Proposed Budget, a Reminder to Look Ahead Sooner Than Later

Categories: City Hall
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At 9 this morning, City Manager will present to Mayor Mike Rawlings and the city council the FY2011-12 budget first shown to media Thursday afternoon; watch Suhm's presentation here, during or after. And: The entire 571-budget is available here for those interested in taking longer, harder looks at proposed additions and subtractions, not to mention such things as debt service and general obligation debt ... and, surely, there are one or two of you willing to put an abacus to those figures. (I highly recommend the appendices.)

Budget town halls begin this week as well (a list follows), though don't expect the fireworks that accompanied last year's meetings with council reps, which ended with a tax hike not on the table this go-round. Suhm said last week, "I think it's a good budget," in part because it allows for the hiring of 200 new police officer and fire-rescue workers without a tax hike, while the most significant cuts involve shuttering a handful of swimming pools and laying off 100 city employees (while also cutting back on the number of mandatory furlough days).

But that's this year; what about next? Because on the same day Suhm went in front of the media, the stock market tanked amidst fears that a rebounding economy's just an illusion and that was passes for good news these days is just a little better than the worst news possible. Which brings us to the end of Suhm's presentation today: "Outlook Beyond FY 2011-12."

Suhm said last week she didn't have to cut as much as previously expected because the state took less from the city's coffers than originally expected, while property-tax revenues didn't plunge as far as originally anticipated. And: Sales-tax receipts have seen slight upticks over the past year and then some. So she built her budget 'round that, taking the good news where she could while knowing that soon as the budget's adopted on September 28, it could all take again. She writes:
Despite the City's efforts and the slight economic growth that is indicated locally, the global economy remains fragile which warrants caution.

Financial challenges may continue into future fiscal years and negatively impact the City's budget
  • Further decline in commercial tax base is possible and would reduce property tax revenues
  • Sales tax is a volatile revenue source
  • Expenses such as fuel and power could see further increase
And not only that, but years of living "within our means," a phrase oft-used 'round City Hall, have left things in need of fixin' up all but ignored -- including infrastructure issues no doubt exacerbated by, oh, severe ice storms and prolonged droughts and heatwaves. So, yeah, maybe we squeak through this year, she'll remind council this morning -- or, at least, she should -- but next year and the years after could be rough.
Reductions put in place over last few years will need to be restored
  • Reductions such as deferred street and facility maintenance will begin to have long-term effect if not restored
  • Restoration of components of Police and Fire Meet and Confer agreement will be required in FY13
  • Restoration of civilian employee pay which is still between 1.9% and 4.9% less than in FY10

Infrastructure needs and debt service requirements must be considered as future bond programs are developed

Strategies to help City's budget outlook in future requires consideration
11-12 Budget Town Hall List
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8 comments
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Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Where is that park? I want to go there.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Well the tax base is not going to be helped if the country clubs get to pay lower values than their property is worth-Oh I forgot we can ALWAYS count on the home owner to foot the bill.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

"Property-tax revenues didn't plunge as far as originally anticipated."Wow.  What a premise upon which to build a budget.

When working, responsible families flee the city as soon as they can for better schools, it creates an oversupply of left-behind housing.  Prices drop, values drop, residential-tax revenue drops.When families flee, businesses follow the families.  Tax revenue from commercial properties declines.  Sales-tax revenue declines.

Year after year, multiple students of mine move at the end of the school year when their families buy homes (most for the first time) in the suburbs.

One about-to-move Iranian mother told me that while she liked most of her children's teachers in DISD, "the facilities and the laziness of other students that is tolerated" made a home in DISD "not a good investment."

Coal mine, meet the canary.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

What about the Fees that have to be paid ?And that nice water bill increase ?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Well, this isn't the only water-bill hike on the horizon, as in: "Retail rates outlook for FY13 is 7.3% increase and FY14 is 6.9% increase."

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Regarding water bills:  do UP/HP citizens pay their water bills through the City of Dallas?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Hmm.

I guess what I'm getting at is this:  Do the people in HP/UP get their water from the same source as we do AND do they pay the same per gallon (or whatever)?

Surely they do not get to draw more water for less money from the same source as City of Dallas residents.

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