DALLAS—After a summer of tough cuts and hundreds of layoffs, the city of Dallas is in its final stretch of closing a $190 million budget shortfall for next year.
Today, council members informally voted on each others' suggested changes to the city manager's proposed balanced budget.
Those who wanted to restore some recreation center hours and library material funding got their wishes. The changes will be funded, in part, by increasing the city's franchise fee paid by Atmos Energy from 4 percent to 5 percent.
But some worry the fee will be passed on to the public.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is an increase in taxes," Councilwoman Ann Margolin said.
The council also voted to not raise the property tax rate by a cent, despite a proposal by Councilman Tennell Atkins that received support from others.
"The time is coming when we have to suck it up and raise the tax rate," Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill said. "There is nowhere else to go."
Some residents, like community activist Minnie Arnold Caruth, spoke out about the nearly 200 civilian police personnel slated to be laid off next month.
"We force the highly trained, specialized law enforcement to do clerical duties," Ms. Caruth said.
But officials say street officers won't suddenly find themselves behind desks.
"People who are already doing administrative work are going to have to pick up that additional workload," Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said. "But it's our intent to not backfield the loss of these civilian personnel by bringing sworn officers that are already out on the street back in."
The City Council will approve a final budget next Wednesday.