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A List of the Budget-Busting State Legislative Items That Really Concern Mary Suhm

Below is City Manager Mary Suhm's memo to the council noting that revenue from red-light cameras is way below last September's FY2010-11 guesstimates. But at present, that's the least of her concerns: On Wednesday, the council will hear from Assistant City Attorney Larry Casto, the city's Director of Legislative Affairs, who will sneak peek the pending legislation down in Austin that could severely impact the city's revenue stream as Suhm tries to determine whether she'll need to cut $60 million from the next fiscal year's budget or close to double that.

When you read the update, stiff drink in hand, note the potential impact is wide-ranging -- from law enforcement grants to mixed-beverage taxes to film and teevee incentives to, yes, red-light cams. An excerpt:

Mixed Beverage Tax Reimbursements
HB1 & SB1 reduce the amount allocated to cities from the current rate of 10.7143 to 8.3065 percent. This reduction would result in a state-wide cut of approximately $26 million per year.
Potential Revenue Loss: $1.8M

Increased Traffic Fines
HB 258 (Gonzalez, Naomi) increases traffic fines from $30-$50. The House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill to increase the state's take from every city traffic ticket, skimming off an additional $42 million per year from city traffic fines.
Potential Revenue Loss: $2.6M

Red Light Cameras
HB 1561 (Orr) and SB 500 (Jackson, Mike) eliminate the City's authority to implement a red light camera program. In the City of Dallas, red-light related accidents have decreased 61% since 2007 at intersection approaches with red light cameras. HB 1792 (Gutierrez) allows the state to keep 100% of the revenue after costs are covered.
Potential Revenue Loss: $1.6M

Those are but three items contained in two pages' worth of cuts that add up to many millions either in lost revenue or mandate implementation. Suhm also provides a look at other legislative items in the city's interest, from payday lenders to towing to the convention center hotel.

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