But two months ago, Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm told Unfair Park she was "looking for quarters in the couch" in order to cover the estimated $100-million budget deficit. Won't be nearly enough. She and the Dallas City Council will go over the ugly why's and what-to-do's Wednesday, during yet another budget workshop that will consume much of the council's scheduled briefing. Get a head start here, with the entire 159-page sneak peek at what Dallas is likely to do without in the coming fiscal year.
Pages 9 though 12 -- which detail the decline in revenues from sales tax, the landfill, interest, the sale of city surplus goods, you name it -- contain all the reasons the city's in a deep hole. Page 16 offers a few solutions worth about $90 million, but even those are flimsy guesstimates -- chief among them, raising parking fines and the cost of parking meters, neither of which get the go-head without council approval.
Which brings us to Page 18, where it says the city needs to either raise or reduce $99.5 million pronto in order to continue:
- Public safety efforts including the addition of 200 new officers
- Economic development, including TIF increment payments
- Reserve funding
- Investment in infrastructure
- Planned increase in the over 65/disabled property tax exemption
Which is why mammoth changes are likely.
Chief among them are "347 potential employee layoffs" at Dallas City Hall, and the elimination of 637 full-time employees (Page 20). There's also the elimination of basic street repairs (Page 34 and 35), substantially reducing library hours both at the branches and downtown (Page 36), reducing rec centers' hours (Page 40), closing 19 Dallas Zoo exhibits (Page 41), eliminating Substance Abuse Treatment Contracts and HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education (Page 44), cutting money from the City Auditor's budget (Page 48), eliminating positions in neighborhood planning and preservation (Page 132).
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And, in case you needed reminding, these reductions and eliminations will, according to the briefing documents, lead to:
- Elimination of certain services
- Slower delivery of services
- Increased potential for errors
- Limitations on the flexibility of the organization
You don't say.