County to Rescue Dallas Clinics From Budget Ax

Some city leaders call for more cuts

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009  |  Updated 9:18 PM CDT
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Dallas Co. Moves to Save City Clinics

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Dallas County hopes to save most of the city clinics that are on the Dallas budget chopping block.

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Dallas Co. Moves to Save City Clinics

Dallas County hopes to save most of the city clinics that are on the Dallas budget chopping block.
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The county hopes to keep three out of four Dallas city health clinics open in a plan to take over city health clinic services that were slated to close because of city budget cuts.

"I think this is going to come out to be a consolidation and a work product that the city and the county both can be proud of and that the people we represent will be proud of, too," said Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm.

Dallas County officials visited the City Council on Wednesday to endorse the plan. The county already operates 12 health clinics where routine services such as school inoculations are offered to low-income families at little to no cost.

County officials said the move will eliminate administrative duplication.

"Unfortunately, it took the budget constraints to drive us to this level, but I want this council to understand, it's the right decision," Commission John Wiley Price said. "Government has got to try to compress. It can't continue to deliver services the same old way."

Some City Council members are also calling for more compression of the city budget. They are questioning plans to go through with capital investments approved by voters in past bond elections under the current budget climate.

"We're cutting into muscle. We're cutting into bone. I don't see how we could make additional cuts the following year," Councilwoman Angela Hunt said.

Hunt said the capital improvement plan could add $24 million in debt payments to next year's budget.

"We don't need to be building playgrounds right now when we can't maintain our parks," she said. "That doesn't make any sense."

But Mayor Tom Leppert said delaying capital improvements would be a mistake.

"When we do that, there's no reason for people to move in, and there's no reason for businesses to come," he said. "That bond program is our investment."

The new city of Dallas budget must be approved by the end of the month.

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