Balancing Dallas Budget Could Mean Tax Hike: Councilman

But mayor, most council members oppose tax hike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Some Dallas City Council members are already talking about a tax rate hike to solve a tight budget forecast this fall.

    Some Dallas City Council members are already talking about a tax rate hike to solve a tight budget forecast this fall.

    Dallas has laid off workers and reduced services in the past to balance the budget.

    “Our reserve is very, very low now, so therefore we need to do something,” Councilman Tennell Atkins said. “We just can’t keep going and cutting and cutting and lay off city employees.”

    Budget Woes May Force Tax Hike in Dallas

    [DFW] Budget Woes May Force Tax Hike in Dallas
    Some Dallas city leaders are talking tax hike after getting gloomy financial news from the city manager.

    But Mayor Tom Leppert and most other council members said they are not willing to support a tax rate hike at this time.

    “Clearly, there are some difficult decisions, and they are not the decisions any of us want to make, but I think it’s important that we live within our means,” Leppert said.

    Cuts last year reduced service in Dallas libraries, pools, parks and street maintenance. Many city workers lost their jobs.

    Police were sacred in previous years as the Dallas worked to expand the number of officers to fight crime. But crime rates are down, and police force expansion is now on hold to save money.

    “What we’re contemplating is replacing the ones that leave, but not adding to the size of the department until we can get past this tight time,” City Manager Mary Suhm said.

    The city manager’s “Price of Government” briefing to the City Council on Wednesday forecast an 8 percent decline in property tax revenue and continued declines in sales taxes.

    “We’re very conservative on our estimates of what our revenues will be and so we need to plan that way," Suhm said. "It will be a challenging budget year."

    The new budget does not take effect until Oct. 1. Property tax estimates come in July.

    Several more meetings will be held for budget debate.