Candy Evans: Dallas City Hall says a property tax cut is on the table, but it’s not the tax relief you think

Dallas City Hall

I was in Nashville, Tennessee, recently, interviewing agents there as I browsed through their wonderful real estate listings. I’ve found that many people choose Nashville over Dallas (and Texas) because they’re moving from California, the Midwest, or the East Coast. Why?

Tennessee’s property taxes are one-third of those in Texas. And there is no income tax in Tennessee. Tennessee does not tax wages and salaries, but does tax interest on bonds and stock dividends.

So while I’m grateful for the preliminary news that Dallas City Manager TC Broadnax is offering an almost 3% cut in property taxes, I’m still furious – the city collected 15% more in taxes land because our market has increased so much in value. Thus, the city earns 12% more in tax revenue.

Why not give it back to those who paid for it?

Three for you, 15 for me

According to information released Friday evening, City Manager TC Broadnax is recommending a budget of $4.51 billion for the city’s next fiscal year. It includes $160 million more than the spending plan approved last year by the Dallas City Council, as Dallas saw record sales and property tax revenues.

Sales and property taxes make up nearly 80% of the city’s general fund, from which most of the city’s day-to-day operations are drawn.

Be prepared to pay more to fill this pool
And more for garbage/recycling pickup

But hold on to your hat: Broadnax gives, then sticks. His proposal calls for increases in the rates and fees we pay for municipal services: sanitation, stormwater disposal and our water bills. He plans to raise starting wages for city workers from $15 an hour to about $18 an hour as part of the proposal, after reporting that at least $17.03 is needed. an hour to earn a living wage in Dallas, or $30 an hour for single parents.

The city released an outline of Broadnax’s budget proposal on Friday with a summary of recommended investments. The full budget proposal, which would include funding recommendations for each city department, is expected to be released on Saturday.

City Council will receive its first public briefing on Broadnax’s spending plan on Tuesday.

Dallas Morning News

A few thoughts.

The city manager’s proposal calls for $4 million in financial incentives to try to keep trained police officers on the brink of retirement to stay at least another year. (He said he hopes at least 30 officers will agree to stay.)

Dallas struggles to hire and retain police officers, like most big cities, because frankly, few want to be police officers, and Dallas pay is notoriously low.

He wants to hire more paramedics, which is good.

He wants to buy six more ambulances, which is good too.

He wants to spend $18 million on fire emergency equipment and $1.5 million to create a watch team for the city’s entertainment districts. Hmmm. Municipal tax money should pay for this? Why not the districts, clubs and places themselves?

According to Dallas Morning NewsHere are some other proposals in the budget followed by how I grade them:

  • Spending $157 million to improve the city’s infrastructure, including $6.3 million to improve sidewalks, $4.4 million to repair bridges, and $2 million to clean up alleys. I’ll give this one an A+.
  • Pay $2 million to remove emerald ash borer infected trees and slow the spread of invasive insects that eat ash trees. It’s a lot, but the trees are crucial. A
  • Spend $1.5 million to develop a program to clean up city properties with hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. Important, but why can’t we charge the creators of such pollution or contaminants to do this? THIS IS A PROGRAM, not the actual fact. I smell bureaucracy :D.
  • Expand the Development Services office to address months-long delays in the issuance of residential and commercial building permits by the city, including creating a team dedicated to approving single-family and multi-family housing projects. It shouldn’t cost a dollar more than making major personnel changes on Jefferson :F.
  • Spend $2.5 million to create a Homeless Action and Response Team to deal with homeless encampments faster. Sounds good, but I’m afraid it’s another waste of resources. Maybe create more housing for the homeless to get them off the streets? D
  • Increase library hours in at least nine city branches that lack access to the Internet and other resources. Gentile, A.
  • Hire more staff in the code enforcement department dedicated to apartment inspections and more animal service workers to respond to calls about dogs on the loose. A+, as long as they do their job.
  • Spend $300,000 to analyze how to bring at least 20 city-owned buildings up to standard with the Americans with Disabilities Act. F. Maybe the city has too many buildings? Maybe it’s time to sell…
  • Spend $70 million on new vehicles. If necessary, okay, now is not a good time to buy vehicles. VS
  • Spend $1.5 million to improve street safety as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, like speed bumps. A+
  • Hire new staff who would oversee the implementation of plans to address road deaths and racial disparities. F – great example of how we waste money on bureaucracy – sounds vague and wrong. See “speed bumps” above.

Less than one percent of the city’s survey says…

Finally, only 1,200 people out of a population of 1.3 million, or 0.9% of the city’s total population, responded to a survey asking citizens how they wanted to spend their tax money in Dallas. It’s less than one percent. Most of this small pool said they wanted to see:

  • increased funding for arts and culture programs,
  • social services,
  • and rehabilitation of streets, sidewalks and alleys.

They wanted less money for:

  • code violations,
  • court services
  • and the police: the things we need to keep us safe.

These respondents have a limited view of reality. But the truth is that Dallas is led by “less than one percent” due to voter apathy. Landlords who do not maintain the properties lead to dilapidated properties, which endanger the lives of the people who live there and render them homeless. Forensic services are needed to deal with our growing crime rate, as are the police.

Your water and garbage bills are about to go up, so that “gift” from the city manager (about $77 on a $350,000 house) will be gone in about a month. Don’t buy the “this is the biggest tax cut in history” rhetoric.

And it is essential that you give your opinion on this budget as soon as possible. Call your Dallas City Council representative. Email, write and yell. They should email about in-person and virtual Town Hall events scheduled for August 11-August 25. It’s your last hope, for changes to the proposal before the final plan is adopted and the new fiscal year takes hold on October 1st.

Just in time for Halloween.

Penny D. Jackson