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
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
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
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.
turns Dallas dream into a nightmare The
city's bubbling optimism hits a fiscal brick wall
08/14/2002 . .
. 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
. . . 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
. . . 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.