Mayor Tom Leppert kicked off today's budget briefing by acknowledging that "the challenges will be significant" as the Dallas City Council finds ways to eliminate a $190-million deficit. He stressed that national and international issues are the cause of the shortfall, and the mayor likened it to the economic struggles faced by households and businesses.
"We just gotta deal with it and move forward," Leppert said.
After City Manager Mary Suhm explained that the budget problems are "revenue problems and not expense problems," CFO Dave Cook illustrated how difficult balancing the budget will be without making cuts to the police and fire departments. With a general fund budget of $1.094 billion and $424 million set aside for police and $202 million for fire, that leaves just $468 million to find $190 million in cuts.
"I'm not saying police and fire are untouchable," Cook said. "They're something we're looking at."
Cook proceeded to walk the council through the PowerPoint presentation, noting that several of the proposed cuts are solutions that are only sustainable for one to two years and could be dangerous long term.
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"The prioritization of these services is not an easy task," he said.
Before the council headed off to lunch, Suhm said, "I know this is difficult and confusing."
Of course, not at all confused was budget hawk Mitchell Rasansky, who complained there weren't any tabs in his materials. Suhm explained there would be in future documents, and then Ron Natinsky said something I didn't catch, but Rasansky's response was priceless: "I'm not dead yet!"
We'll have more after the council returns from lunch, as members haven't yet had their say concerning the proposed cuts.