The projected Fiscal budget for 2023-2024 was previewed and released to the public, with an increase to the overall budget afforded to the city of Dallas.
Held on Thursday at 1 pm, coverage of the 2023-2024 budget began with an overview of what the fiscal budget would look like by City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Jack Ireland. Ireland explained that there was a rise in the property tax base, growing overall by 5.1%. The city’s overall budget increased to $4.51 billion from last year’s $4.35 billion, rising to about $100 million. The general fund budget is $1.71 billion (which is contained within the overall budget and comes from property tax, sales tax and misc. revenue). Public safety will be getting increases for police and fire public safety personnel. Ireland also budgeted to hire 250 police officers, as well as additional incentives to retain other officers so the police can continue to expand. An additional advanced life safety and support unit (essentially, another EMS unit). Five peak demand units will be turned into a single function paramedic program. This will allow for paramedics on paramedic vans to go out and respond to medical emergencies. Police vehicles will also be equipped with radios they need, with body cameras, tasers and other equipment close to $40 million. $9.5 million has been budgeted for budgeting and management services.
In terms of economic development, there will be continued efforts to reform the building and permitting process. They will also continue to design and implement their Kay Bailey Hutchinson center development plan. $2.5 million is budgeted for Forward Dallas (a city led comprehensive program), with additional resources to update and revamp Forward Dallas. Resources will also be spent to support transitioning an auto pound in District 6 into a new model to deal with wrecked vehicles. In terms of environmental sustainability, the city of Dallas will be advancing their climate action plan, using community solar programs and weatherization (programs that assist with the weatherization of the homes of low-income elderly and disabled adults and families). Dallas’ five year Water conservation work plan will also be updated. $1.8 million will be spent to try to rectify and prevent disease from ash. $1.5 million is budgeted for a Brownfield program to remediate and leverage resources from the state regarding environmental contamination.
Housing and Homeless
For Housing and Homeless solutions will continue Rapid Rehousing programs that allow decommissioning encampments, specifically larger ones in order to transition people into housing. They will also be launching a Homeless Action Response team to offer immediate intervention for smaller encampments, which will consist of four/five department efforts that deal with debris, trash and accompanying social services that are associated with it. $150,000 has also been added to inclement weather shelter. They’ll also establish an emerging developer fund to support small businesses and small nonprofits for affordable housing projects (helping with technical assistance and capacity building). Nine grant libraries will also have their hours go from 40 to 54,which will go to the most needed areas, which is a $1.6 million investment. There are also going to be expanding enhanced library card, which can be used by people who don’t have a traditional license to still have a library card. They also hope to improve apartment communities, particularly those that are stressed by hiring a team that will closely inspect the multi-family and some of the life safety issues. They will also add in a loose dog team to deal with strays. Resources will also be added for light and blight remediation (abandoned or poorly maintained real estate properties, often with overgrowth, trash-filled yards and alleys, graffiti, and broken windows).
They will be hiring an equity coordinator and a public engagement coordinator, who will reach out to the community to talk to them, particularly related to equity for their racial equity plan. There will also be an added coordinator for the American Disability Act, with $300,000 added to do assessments of at least 20 more buildings in the city building portfolio to recommend improvements that are needed to meet American Disability Act responsibilities. They will also be working to expand the capacity of minority and women owned businesses, as well as other small local businesses, spending $750,000 for the 2023 fiscal year, which they hope to expand to a million for 2024. They also hope to expand digital navigation to bridge the divide between education and sharing awareness about programs. $2 million of allotted ARPA funds will be spent.
Government Performance and Financial Management
In terms of government performance and finance management, six positions are recommended for the Office of Inspector General, with $600,000 allocated. There will be a 3% merit adjustment for non-uniform employees. The new minimum wage salary for city employees will now range from $15 to $18, which they hope will be able to retain and attract a workforce. Their tuition reimbursement program will also add an additional $100,000. They will also be adding seven positions that expand offerings. $24 million will be added into technology improvements.
As for District 7, he stated that while income is not decided by district (it is more so decided by need), in terms of the police budget and housing and homelessness, there are expected increases.
“District seven, and many districts in the southern part of Dallas, South Central substation, and the other substations that reflect those areas, have quite a few officers in them just based on the need. So you would think intuitively, that if we’re adding more resources, it provides a better opportunity for those resources to be deployed in the areas that are most needed,” he said.
For homelessness, Broadnak states that he finds that two things will help: the Homeless Area Response Team and cleaning up encampments and/or some of the debris that is non-encampment related that was potentially put there due to people panhandling (who spend a lot of time under bridges causing an accumulation of debris). He believes this will have an effect on not only District 7, but all districts, specifically those that have a lot of underpasses.
Statement From Mayor Eric Johnson
“I have been unequivocal that the top two priorities for this year’s budget should be public safety and tax relief for our city’s homeowners, renters, and businesses. I am pleased that the Dallas City Council will now have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to these same priorities by investing in making our neighborhoods safer while also delivering the largest single-year tax-rate reduction in modern Dallas history. While the details will be key, I commend the city manager for focusing this year’s proposed budget on the issues that are most important to our residents.”
To learn more about the proposed budget and feedback you can offer, click the release below: