Better Economy: Better Dallas Budget | KERA News

Better Economy: Better Dallas Budget

Aug 9, 2012

The proposed city of Dallas budget for next year does not include layoffs, cuts to libraries, or a tax increase. An improving economy is making the 2013 budget debate less painful.

City Manager Mary Suhm says sales taxes are up, property taxes too, and that means more money in the budget.

“This is a good news year because this is the first year I can really say with confidence that I think we’ve turned a corner and are beginning to come back, ” said Suhm at a City Hall briefing.

Suhm says her proposed 2013 budget is about hiring, not firing: 200 new police officers, 90 firefighters, and more than 50 positions in Building Inspection because construction activity is up. And there are pay raises: 3% for police and fire; and pay for other city workers is being restored.

“Furlough days are eliminated. Salary cuts are eliminated that happened during the budget,” Suhm said. “So, after four years everybody’s kind of back to where they were.”

Modest merit raises are also back in the budget, so employees that meet certain goals will get an extra boost. And the city is not raising health care premiums for employees.

Suhm says compensation for city employees, except police and fire, was rated weak to average in a recent study. She plans to work on that over the next three years.

Library, recreation center and swimming pool operations would remain the same next year, but libraries get an extra $3 million for materials.

“I won’t tell you that the amount of money we have for library materials is anything I would brag on right now,” Suhm said. “That’s one of many things that we need to restore over the next couple of years. This is a slight turnaround.”

Money for street maintenance remains the same, but there is additional funding for street re-striping. Sanitation fees hold steady, but water bills would go up about 4% -- or an average $3.60 a month.

The city council begins tweaking the proposed budget at a Monday workshop.