On the other side is the budget briefing handed to media members when we arrived at City Manager Mary Suhm's fourth-floor conference room for a 3:45 meet-the-presser. Long story short: She managed to balance the budget without cutting too much, she said, thanks to the state taking less than originally expected and property-tax revenues not dropping as far as originally anticipated. The city's also seen 18 months' worth of slight increases in sales tax revenue. "I think it's a good budget," Suhm said after recapping the doc, which went to council earlier this afternoon.
Suhm has reduced the number of furlough days for city employees, from eight this year to five next. She's also budgeted for 200 new hires in the Dallas Police Department, and 200 more in Fire-Rescue, the latter to help offset overtime costs. The budget also includes funding 25 "hot spot" cameras in high-crime neighborhoods.
That said, there will be cuts: 100 city employees will be laid off, five pools will be closed "based on use and population" (she didn't say which ones; we'll have that shortly), Fruitdale and Marcus Annex rec centers will be shuttered (they're considered "small center").
Oh -- and your Dallas Water Utilities bill will increase by 5.9 percent, which Suhm guesstimates to be around $4.40 a month. It's not in the doc below. Mutli-tenant registration fees will also go up, from $6.51 to $10 per unit. The layoffs, said Suhm, will be scattered around City Hall, but hardest hit will be Park and Rec and libraries.
She said flow control wasn't factored into the budget, though it will come back before council on August 17. She also said Park and Rec maintenance will be privatized, and that the city is retooling its request for a proposal to privatize the downtown farmers market, as "all the construction and housing" taking planned around the market "makes it viable" to revisit the issue. The new farmers market RFP, she says, "will go out shortly." But plans to privatize the auto pound have been shelved: "The return's not worth the risk and the lack of control. People get grumpy when they can't find their car."
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Suhm says most of the council members to whom she's shown the budget are OK with it, but she expects pushback may come in the library materials budget (she's added money back this year, "but it's still way down from its peak") and the pool closings.