North Texas
8:18 pm
Thu August 26, 2010

Momentum Grows For Dallas Tax Hike

Dallas, TX – A tax increase may be gaining traction at Dallas City Hall. KERA's BJ Austin says the momentum appears to be growing among citizens, AND on the city council.

At yesterday's public hearing on the budget, a long line of speakers pleaded with the city council not to cut funding for libraries, parks and rec centers. Many said they would be willing to pay higher taxes for those services. Allison Schwartz is concerned about cuts to park maintenance.

Schwartz: In my district, which is the White Rock District, it's my understanding there are 55 employees for over 60 parks, including White Rock Lake, and that will be cut to 23. I plead that you all do the right thing and add more money to the budget for the park and recs.

But City Council member Ann Margolin says the rec center hours that were to be cut have been restored thanks to a one million dollar donation from Oncor Electric. And she says the budget is being mined for more money that could go to parks and rec.

Margolin: These are tough times. There is something to be said for living within the means that we have, and doing the best with the money that we have.

Councilman Dave Neumann says he has a track record as a fiscal conservative, but he's listening to his constituents, and they're sending a clear message.

Neumann: I'm hearing from my citizens, council members, about what they feel are essential city services. And it's rec centers. It's branch libraries, and its streets.

Mayor Tom Leppert says raising taxes would be a mistake. He says higher taxes scare off new businesses.

Leppert: And it's disingenuous for us to say that we want to see investment in the southern part of the city, we want to see us create jobs, but all of a sudden close our eyes to the biggest factor that a lot of those small businesses have to look at in locating their businesses.

Jeanne Miller, who spoke against cuts to the library system, disagrees with the Mayor about raising taxes.

Miller: You say businesses and people will not want to move to Dallas if you do. That is not why they wouldn't want to come here. It's because our libraries will be substandard, as well as our parks and streets.

Mayor Leppert says there will be a lot more discussion about this before the September 22nd final vote on next year's budget.

Email BJ Austin