City Manager Mary Suhm today provided the city council -- and the media, including Unfair Park's brand-new Intern Courtney -- with a sneak peak at the "recommended" 2008-'09 budget, which the Dallas city council won't approve for another few weeks. Courtney brought back Suhm's summary, which is right here, but big news out of the way: "No tax rate increase," which she'd hinted at earlier. But, if she gets her way, there will be a sales tax increase by 1.75 percent over earlier FY 2008 estimates. Said Suhm, "We can't afford to complain. Other cities are suffering a great deal more than we are."
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It's a big budget -- $2.7 billion, or $43.2 million more than last year's -- that includes hiring and actually paying 200 new police officers, which means Suhm's proposing other deep cuts to the bottom line, including, yes, closing the Dallas Zoo one day out of the week, getting rid of 311 operators late at night and shuttering the aquarium at Fair Park for one year "for renovations." As you'll note in this summary, Suhm's also proposing upping the water rate by 6.3 percent, increasing sanitation fees (up $1.45) and athletic field reservation fees (up 50 percent), doubling the price of parking in the Arts District garage (from $5 to $10), adding a buck to Zoo admission and selling advertising space on city-owned vehicles (from which she hopes to make $250,000 -- kinda like Captain Amazing). Suhm said the product-placement idea was something being done elsewhere: "Don't mind stealing ideas," she told the masses. Hey, saves money. --Robert Wilonsky