840 Lay-offs in Dallas Budget Plan

Cuts to close $190 million shortfall

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Friday, Aug 7, 2009  |  Updated 8:51 PM CDT
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Dallas Residents Will Feel Budget Cuts

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More Dallas city employees will lose their jobs in the proposed Dallas city budget unveiled Friday by City Manager Mary Suhm.

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Dallas Residents Will Feel Budget Cuts

Fewer city services, like a reduction in trash pickup, and more layoffs are in order as Dallas tries to solve its budget shortfall.
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More Dallas city employees will lose their jobs in the proposed Dallas city budget unveiled Friday by City Manager Mary Suhm.

Suhm said public safety services are maintained in her plan. It calls for adding 191 additional police officers by next year, just under the 200 added this year. About half of the new positions would be funded with federal money.
 
But staff reductions to cut salary expenses in other departments would mean deep cuts in services including libraries, recreation centers, parks and street maintenance.
 
“We think we’ve reduced in a way that service impacts are equitable and across the board and that we’re in a position to re-establish those services as we come back in the economy,” Suhm said.
 
Reduced sales and property tax revenue, along with increased expenses for public safety and prior capital improvement bond debt created a $190 million shortfall for this budget.
 
The list of employees due to receive pink slips next Friday is now 840 instead of the 785 predicted earlier this year. Civilian employees would also receive five unpaid furlough days, which amounts to a 2% pay cut.
 
Among the proposed layoffs are 165 police civilians.

“Somewhere along the line you’re going to have a uniformed police officer doing that job," said Dallas Police Association President Glenn White. "That’s very counterproductive.”
 
Councilmember Angela Hunt said the pink slips seem premature.

“This budget hasn’t yet been approved by the council, so I’m a little confused about that,” Hunt said.
 
The city manager said affected employees must be notified about the pending layoffs.

“It’s very upsetting to me personally, but there’s also the responsibility to the people that pay our salaries to stay within our means,” Suhm said.
 
The budget also includes a citywide switch to once a week trash collection on March 1, instead of a switch phased in over the next several years as was proposed before.   Suhm said the change will reduce sanitation fees by 64 cents a month.

"It's just a very positive thing for all of us," Suhm said.
 
Many North Dallas neighborhoods already receive garbage and recycling collection on the same day once a week. But some southern sector neighborhoods have resisted the change.
 
"There's too much trash in this part of town," said Fair Park area resident Dorothy Daniels.  "They're making a big mistake."
 
“The council has to approve everything,” said councilmember Carolyn Davis who opposes the March 1st change for parts of her district. “It’s only proposed by the city manager.”
 
The Dallas City Council will discuss the manager’s proposed budget Monday. It must adopt a budget by the end of September.

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