City Hall

Suhm Tells Council She Never Counted Flow Control Dollars When Prepping Budget Preview

We told you Friday: Very, very, very, very early guesstimates at City Hall have the city short anywhere from $49 million to $87 million when it comes to putting together the FY2012-13 budget. City Manager Mary Suhm repeated that this morning: "We're very early in the process." The city's chief financial offer, Jeanne Chipperfield, added to that: "We anticipate a number of changes" before the final number's nailed down. At which point she walked the council through the PowerPoint we powerpointed you to at week's end.

Suhm chimed in about a few specific items, such as giving raises and cutting out those furlough days. Said the city manager, two years' worth of layoffs have "left people doing a great deal more work than we had before ... and it's very important we recognize that burden." Because, said Suhm, "as the economy recovers they have options" to go elsewhere, and she's concerned about losing 'em to the private sector.

And when it comes to upping dollars for street-striping and sign replacement: "It's a safety issue, and there's no way not to get this done this year." Ann Margolin said she's talked to two Dallas County commissioners about using some matching funds from the county; Suhm said, yup, we're lookin' at that. "Bike lane striping too." Ah.

Linda Koop, channeling Dwaine Caraway, asked Suhm: So, how much money has the city made now that beer and wine sales are allowed citywide? Suhm said she had no idea. "Any idea at all?" Koop pressed.

"I could give you my personal idea but not much otherwise," Suhm said. "It just shifted things around. I may be wrong about that." But, she made sure to note: "You'll have grocery stores in parts of the city and Sam's where they weren't before" the November 2010 referendum. "So that is an increment you will achieve."

Council didn't have much to say about this sneak peek. And Margolin was the only one to note the giant waste-hauling elephant in the room, asking Suhm whether the budget predictions include the $15 million to $18 million promised upon the enactment of the flow control ordinance supposed to kick in last month but shot down yesterday.

"Not in here," said Suhm. "Never was."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky