Dallas County Springs for Property Tax Hike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    Dallas County commissioners have approved a property tax increase, but county law enforcement leaders say it's not enough.

    Dallas County commissioners voted Tuesday for a property tax increase, but county law enforcement leaders say it's not enough.

    The 1.5-cent increase will raise $21.6 million for the county. It will cost the average homestead $18 per year.

    A standing-room only crowd cheered when Commissioner Maurine Dickey agreed to the tax hike.

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    "There's no reason for you all to spend another sleepless night on this when it is a small tax raise," she said. "We should do it this year."

    Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield was the only one to vote against the increase.

    "This county has scrubbed its department heads, they've scrubbed, and it's evident over the last three years," Commissioner John Wiley Price said.

    But commissioners are also making big cuts in the county's budget, which contains 214 layoffs, including two dozen from the district attorney's office.

    "We don't have anything that we can give, and so we're going to continue to work with commissioners," District Attorney Craig Watkins said.

    The proposed budget would also lay off 80 constable deputies who are on traffic duty. Precinct 4 Constable R.L. Skinner said his deputies have arrested 650 drunken drivers.

    "The decision the court makes in the future is going to decide people that are alive today, may not be alive tomorrow if we cannot continue putting those drunk drivers in jail," he said.

    Constables are competing with the sheriff to save warrant-serving duties that both provide.

    "At some point it becomes costly to cut certain services, and I think we're at that point now," Sheriff Lupe Valdez said.

    Commissioners will vote on a final budget Sept. 21.

    Dallas residents could see a double hike; the Dallas City Council is also considering an increase. But supporters of tax hikes also say that tax it could be a wash for many taxpayers because tax values are down.

    NBCDFW's Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.