A new group of Dallas community activists calling itself 'Our City Our Budget' wants changes in the proposed city spending plan to boost social programs.
Many of the programs were trimmed to avoid a property tax rate hike in the proposed 2019-2020 budget currently under consideration at Dallas City Hall.
The plan on the table has been described as a 'public safety budget' by city leaders, as they fight to combat a spike in violent crime with a police force around 700 officers smaller than it was in 2011.
Sara Mokuria, a founder of the group Mothers Against Police Brutality, is also a founder of the new budget group.
Dallas has an extremely high poverty rate and Mokuria said city spending should be refocused to address it.
"We think we should be having an anti-poverty budget, not a public safety budget," Mokuria said. "And truly, an anti-poverty budget is a public safety budget. When you invest in the people, you don't have to police them."
Mokuria spoke with NBC 5 about the plan at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. She said Cultural Centers and Recreation Centers deserve additional money to provide safe places for kids and seniors.
The current budget proposal includes additional free passes to rec centers for youth. Mokuria said it should include 24-hour rec center operation on weekends.
"Let's look at public safety as activated parks, activated rec centers, communities thriving and working together," she said.
Mokuria said benefit coordinators should also be funded to help residents navigate the maze of state and federal programs that may be available to them.
To eliminate a small tax increase from the proposed budget, Dallas City Council Members endorsed reductions on welcoming community and homeless program support funding.
"Investing in our communities and divesting in policing our communities is what's ultimately going to make us safer because really at this point, cops can only respond to crime. They're not really preventing crime," said OCOB supporter Kristian Hernandez.
A Dallas City Council budget meeting scheduled for Tuesday was canceled because officials are satisfied with the budget choices they have already made.
The final City Council vote on the new budget is scheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 18th.
Supporter Angela Faz said OCOB still hopes to rally support for changes next week.
"That's why we need the people of Dallas, the citizens of Dallas, to reach out to their council person, get involved," she said. "We definitely want to shift the focus to a people centered budget."
Mokuria said four Dallas City Council Members have voiced support for OCOB. Two of the four did not return messages from NBC 5 Tuesday. Eight City Council votes are needed for changes.
If change does not happen this year, the OCOB supporters said they will keep working.
"We're not going to stop there," Hernandez said.