City Hall

Peek at Three Moneymaking Brainstorms on Tomorrow's Council Briefing Agenda

Today or tomorrow, depending upon when she's got the time to wrap up our chat, we'll post the Unfair Park Interview with Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm concerning this year's $131-million budget cutting that's more like a gutting following last year's to-the-bone. So far in our conversations she's used words like "worrisome," "challenging," "disastrous" (if, she says, she cuts street services any further) and "pretty ratty looking" (when discussing cuts to park upkeep). So there's that to look forward to.

This too: Tomorrow Suhm will present to council, during its briefing meeting, three "brainstorming ideas" that, even if implemented at the earliest point possible, really wouldn't affect this year's shortfall. One of them we've already addressed: the transportation user fee, which more or less charges property owners to use the streets. Still no word on how much that's guesstimated to bring in, but Austin pocketed $38.2 million in revenue last fiscal year. Problem is, says the briefing, it "will take 9-12 months" to implement -- and it will "be directed to commercial properties to include non-profit commercial properties."

Speaking of, also on the drawing board: implementing a voluntary something-something called Payment in Lieu of Taxes (or PILOT), wherein nonprofits that "receive significant benefit from city services" would be asked to give something back ... just because, well, ya know, it'd be cooler if you did. According to the city and Dallas Central Appraisal District, there are some 12,000 nonprofit properties worth $10.7 billion within the city limits, and the city's tired of not profiting off 'em. So ... pretty please? Suhm, though, doesn't appear to see this going very far: Of the three moneymaking suggestions on her to-do list, this one doesn't even get an implementation recommendation. But there's one that does ...

And that one has to do with solid waste. As in: The city wants to divert all solid waste collected within the city limits to the McCommas Bluff Landfill. Suhm's tired of seeing trash head out of the city or county to places like the 121 Regional Disposal Landfill in Melissa or Garland's C.M. Hinton Regional Landfill or any of the 10 other dumps between here and Denton and Ellis counties.

According to the briefing, the city wants to exercise what's known as flow control -- which is to say, it wants the authority to tell people where they can dump their solid waste. But as the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged, flow control has become "a heavily debated issue among state and local governments, the waste management and recycling industries, and environmental groups."

Says Suhm's briefing, the city stands to make a lot of money off the proposal -- $14 to $17 million annually. But it comes at the risk of pissing off the 12 other landfills in the area -- and, well, redirecting all that trash to McCommas could potentially shorten the lifespan of the city landfill from 55 years to 30.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky