Billion Dollar Dallas Repair Plan Gets City Council Support

Voters get final say in November

A billion dollar plan to repair Dallas streets, parks and buildings received strong support from the City Council Wednesday.

In a 13 to 2 vote, Council Members approved a resolution to put a bond referendum of about $1.025 billion before voters in November.

Wednesday’s discussion pegged more than half the money for street and transportation improvements.

“It will actually make a difference,” said Councilman Philip Kingston. “People will be able to tell the difference in the quality of the streets.”

But Kingston was still one of the two members voting against the resolution. He objected to the way the process has been handled and presented.

“This feels like we’re hiding projects inside the propositions that not all of us want,” Kingston said.

Councilman Lee Kleinman voted no, saying the borrowing plan will saddle the city with too much debt.

“People just need to be cognizant of the burden you’re putting on our citizens when you do this,” Kleinman said.

Mayor Mike Rawlings voiced that same concern but voted in favor of letting voters decide whether to borrow so much repair money.

”Do we have the capacity? Yes. Should we use all the capacity? That’s the question we’re talking about,” Rawlings said.

Earlier this year city leaders planned on limiting the bond referendum to $800 million but pressure to spend more grew as a proposed May referendum was delayed until a Police and Fire Pension crisis was settled. The city’s pension contribution will be $41 million more next year.

The City Council now plans to include $50 million in the borrowing plan for Dallas Fair Park improvements that were strongly supported by new Fair Park area Councilman Kevin Felder.

“You’ve got decades of deferred maintenance and this is a start,” Felder said. “It’s not what I wanted in terms of the dollar amount but it’s a start. So, we can work from there. It will attract investors. It will attract developers.”

Felder wants the Fair Park improvements to help the existing residents around the park, as well.

Police buildings will get security upgrades promised since an attack on Police Headquarters two years ago and the fatal downtown ambush on police a year ago.

Flood control upgrades would help control the storm water that swamped Loop 12 near I-30 two years ago.

Councilman Rickey Callahan said early City Council promises for a borrowing plan that is mostly street improvement has changed.

“We felt like the predominate amount of money was going to be towards streets,” Callahan said. “But we continue to add these special things, special interest things.”

But Callahan also voted in favor of the plan Wednesday. Another City Council vote on the exact projects to be included in the referendum is scheduled for August so members have more time for wrangling on specific items.

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