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Stan Aten

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08/14/02 Stan Aten shares his letter to Hank Tatum:

 

I have been involved in townhall budget meetings since 1985.  So, I have seen all kinds of schemes by the various city managers to reduce city services that matter to citizens while protecting inefficient city services.

Unfortunately, the average reporter does not have the depth of experience of seeing this process over a period of years to understand what is happening.  Therefore, you get a story like last week claiming "Hardship to come from City Budget process".

All year, we have been fed the story that the budget shortfall is due to a drop in sales tax revenue.   Sales tax revenue is down only $30 million vs a budget shortfall of $95 million.  In fact, the proposed budget is $20 million higher than the midyear adjusted budget.

The 494 layoffs or reduction in positions is almost identical to what this city has faced in the last 2 budget years.    The problem for the city manager is that revenue is increasing more slowly than spending.

The biggest to ask is why is the sales tax down?   Could it be because of the economy or is it a direct result of the higher hotel motel taxes to pay for the new Arena?  

If you look at the numbers, even with the new addition to the convention center which opens this year, convention business is down significantly from 2 years ago.

If the city manager were serious about trimming the budget, he would not have scheduled 3 elections for next year.   He would close the Heliport at the convention center.   He would trim the funding for the police and fire dept. pension fund.   He would not be funding 50% to 100% in budgets for postage and office supplies in some city departments.  

As far as I can tell, the budget cuts were designed for the maximum pain for the citizens of Dallas rather than to improve efficiency.

You might also ask the city manager just how much the city has given up in property tax breaks over the last 5 years.   Those tax breaks could be enough to have made a tax increase unnecessary.
Budget turns Dallas dream into a nightmare  The city's bubbling optimism hits a fiscal brick wall

08/14/2002
By HENRY TATUM / The Dallas Morning News
. . .  Wasn't it just a short while ago that Dallas was gearing up to make its big pitch to host the Summer Olympics in 2012? Didn't the Dallas public library recently celebrate its 100th anniversary by unveiling a new master plan that would cost $50 million? Wasn't the planned opening of the Nasher Sculpture Center next year going to be the inspiration for major downtown improvements?
. . .  I am a 30-year veteran of these annual budget deliberations, and there are proposals in this package that have sent chills up even my spine. 
. . .  It is amazing what a $95 million shortfall can do to budget planning and to the hopes and aspirations of a city like Dallas.
. . .   To his credit, City Manager Ted Benavides let the public know how bad it was going to be. 
. . .  Dallas still enjoys a certain mystique. But failed attempts to attract large corporations or major events in recent years have removed some of the glimmer.
. . .  The adage that you have to spend money to make money may be hard to swallow in such difficult financial circumstances. But it still is true.
 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8