Dallas City Manger T.C. Broadnax released his first budget late Friday afternoon. It makes a lot of promises — increased funding for Dallas' police and fire pension system, cash for fixing some of the city's beleaguered streetlights and money for public safety improvements among them — with no accompanying increase in the property tax rate.
Under Broadnax's budget, the city will contribute about $151 million to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund. That's about $40 million more than last year. Despite an expected revenue increase of only $39 million and increased spending in other areas, however, Broadnax's budget is still balanced, thanks in large part to an expected decrease in spending on police salaries.
While Broadnax's proposal doesn't cut the salaries of current officers, it abandons hiring expectations to bring the budget more in line with the reality of DPD's recruitment ability. DPD is expected to lose between 350 and 400 officers this year. While the city hoped to hire 400 officers last year — a plan that is going to fall short by about 50 percent — Broadnax's 2017-18 budget calls for hiring only 250 new officers.
If those 250 officers are hired, they will amount to a net gain of 50 officers, according to Broadnax's projections, which estimate that 200 officers will leave the department during the next fiscal year.
Combined with the savings accumulated from not paying officers who left the department without replacement in the past year, the more conservative estimate of new money going to police salaries clears out significant room in the budget.
"We aren't budgeting positions that we didn't realistically think we could support. That gave us the ability to absorb the increased pension costs and avoid major reductions in city services," Broadnax said.
In addition to maintaining the city of Dallas' current service levels, Broadnax's budget contains notable bumps for some of the city's longstanding problems. While the last city budget of A.C. Gonzalez, the previous city manager, allocated only $1 million to programs intended to address homelessness in the city of Dallas, Broadnax's budget goes significantly further, allowing for $1.6 million to clean up and fence off homeless encampments and an additional $200,000 for an anti-panhandling initiative, Broadnax said Friday.
As part of a $6.1 million line item set to improve facilities around the city, Dallas' police substations will finally receive some of the enhanced security measures the department and police associations have fought hard for since James Boulware's assault on Jack Evans Police Headquarters in June 2015.
Money will also be allocated to upgrading the interiors of some of the city's fire stations and making improvements to libraries and recreation centers so they're in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The city's deteriorating roads won't be improving under Broadnax's budget. Despite more than $63 million budgeted for repairing and repaving, the city will require cash from this year's yet-to-be passed bond package just to maintain the city's streets at the same level they are today. On a more positive note, Broadnax said that $2 million in city money will go to leveraging $10 million in federal funds so that the city can replace 30 of its worst traffic signals. In 2015, city staff estimated that it could cost as much as $362 million over 25 years for the city to bring all of the city's lights up to date.
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