Dallas unveils proposed $4.51 billion budget and ‘reduced’ property tax rate

Dallas administrators reviewed the city’s proposed $4.51 billion budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year on Tuesday. The figure is based on a property tax rate of 74.58 cents per $100 of property assessment, a reduction of about 2.75 cents from last year’s rate.

City manager TC Broadnax said the proposed tax rate cut represents the biggest cut in 40 years. The city has windfall tax revenue from higher real estate assessments across the board; Broadnax wants to return 3 of the 15% windfall to taxpayers.

“Our budget serves as a policy document, financial plan and operational guide,” Broadnax said. “The budget allows us to express our priorities with the way we allocate the public resources entrusted to us.”

Chief Financial Officer Jack Ireland noted that the city plans to collect about $1.3 billion in property taxes over the coming year, the biggest revenue stream to fund the budget.

No residents registered to speak at Tuesday’s public hearing. Board members responded positively to the presentation.

“I think the framework for this budget is really strong,” said District 12 Councilman Cara Mendelsohn. There are several opportunities for residents to have their say on the proposal, which outlines strategic priorities as well as how funds will be raised and spent. The budget and the tax rate will be adopted in final reading on September 21 and the new fiscal year will begin on October 1.

During the three-and-a-half-hour workshop on Tuesday, council members shared concerns they heard from constituents about things like housing, building permits, code enforcement, homelessness and transportation.

Mendelsohn stressed the importance of a five-year budget forecast and asked about collection and remediation costs, as well as upgrades to the information technology department.

District 3 Councilman Casey Thomas II wanted to hear about racial equity in budgeting and resource allocation. Councilman Tennell Atkins advocated for stricter enforcement of the code in District 8.

District 13 Councilwoman Gay Donnell Willis wanted to see if more could be done to lower the tax rate further.

“We’ve seen this incredible increase in property values,” she said. “The sales tax projection appears to be nearly $31 million higher than forecast… That’s the phenomenal growth we’re seeing in Dallas, TX to fuel and have. We know that even with this reduction, it will look like a tax increase. It’s all around town. It’s every neighborhood.

Broadnax pointed out that the city needs an additional $172 million, with ongoing year-over-year spending like wage growth.

“I believe the recommended [tax rate decrease] is an appropriate amount,” he said. “Our expenses are increasing at an alarming level and the decades of divestment, along with deferred maintenance, are things we will continue to talk about. I wanted to make sure that we at least had the revenue to do these things year after year.

District 1 Councilman Chad West said he liked the aggressive tax cut and focus on comprehensive infrastructure.

“It certainly helps ease the hunger games a bit when a lot of the things we’re asking for end up in the budget,” he said. “I also appreciate that the staff go out into the community and get some feedback before we get to that.”

The next budget workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, August 17. The Council’s amendments will be considered on August 31. For more information on Dallas’ budget, visit financialtransparency.dallascityhall.com.

Penny D. Jackson