Dallas City Workers May Sink in Sea of Red Ink

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    Pay cuts, furlough days and even layoffs are all on the table for city employees.

    Pay cuts, furlough days and even layoffs are all on the table for Dallas city workers.

    City Manager Mary Suhm laid out the bad news to hundreds of city employees during two meetings at City Hall on Thursday.

    Dallas Deals with Budget Crisis

    [DFW] Dallas Deals with Budget Crisis
    Pay cuts, furlough days and even layoffs are being discussed as part of the plan to help Dallas make ends meet and makeup for a potential $130 million shortfall. (Published Thursday, June 10, 2010)

    A couple hundred employees packed the auditorium at one meeting, but there was not enough room for everyone. Hundreds more filled the council chambers to watch on a TV screen.

    "To come to a meeting thinking you're going to get a chance to ask the city manager questions, and you're not -- you stood out here in the hallway, listening on the speaker," said Lloyd Lewis, a Street Services truck driver.

    News media were not allowed inside the meetings. A city staff member said the meetings were limited to employees, but one non-city employee said he was able to get in.

    Suhm said she talked about possible layoffs and pay cuts and definite furlough days to make up for an expected $130 million shortfall in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

    "That's not an easy conversation to have with folks," she said.

    Some employees said they are ready to help balance the budget.

    "If you really want to see the city of Dallas make it; hey, if that's where your heart is -- city of Dallas -- come on, let's show it," said Doug Dean, a Park and Recreation worker.

    But others said enough is enough.

    "If you can fix the Trinity River and build a motel [hotel] downtown -- that Mayor Leppert and all them can do that -- why can't they help us?" Lewis said. "Because we have families. We have needs."

    Suhm said there's no easy fix for 16 consecutive months of declining city revenues.

    "You can't raise the taxes enough to cover it, you can't cut enough people to cover it, you can't cut enough salaries to cover it, so it's going to be a multifaceted solution," she said.

    Employees who did not attend Thursday's meetings can attend a third meeting at City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Friday.