Dallas officials approve more budget adjustments ahead of final vote

The Dallas City Council approved a series of amendments Wednesday for its latest proposed budget that shifted more money for housing, homelessness and fire department services as well as other initiatives.

The majority of the money came from $14 million that City Manager TC Broadnax suggested be set aside for future expenses related to the city’s police and fire, and employee pensions. After Wednesday, that fund was whittled down to less than $3 million due to amendments also made on Sept. 7.

“This is just a slush fund that’s sitting to the side,” said council member Cara Mendelsohn, who was one of several members of the City Council who proposed shifting the funds in favor of other plans.

Broadnax said he wouldn’t have recommended spending any of the $14 million fund, but noted the adjustments would be made.

“It is not a slush fund,” Broadnax said.

The City Council was originally scheduled to vote to approve the planned $4.5 billion budget Wednesday, but the final decision has been delayed until next Wednesday because the city did not properly advertise a public hearing for it.

Public hearings on the budget and proposed new tax rate are required by state law before they are adopted. Both will happen next Wednesday along with the votes setting the overall budget and tax rate. The new city funding plan goes into effect Oct. 1.

The current property tax rate is 77.33 cents per $100 of the appraised value of a home. It’s being proposed to be lowered to 74.58 cents.

Some of the shifted money from the pension fund goes to setting aside up to $3 million to develop a leasing program to support housing homeless people. Master leasing is a process where the city or a nonprofit rents apartments and then subleases them to tenants. It could for example allow instances where accepting housing vouchers would be required.

Another nearly $2.9 million would go toward repairs and renovations for Dallas Fire-Rescue buildings and new equipment. The City Attorney’s Office plans to add a general counsel attorney and an outreach coordinator for the community prosecution division with an extra almost $140,000. And $100,000 will go towards a housing repair program aimed at senior homeowners.

Dallas fire department will rent trucks as resources continue to run short

Other budget shifts included moving $183,000 from a salary and benefit reserve to increase pay for city building security guards. And moving $150,000 in money meant for storm drainage management for cleaning up litter on trails along the Trinity River and other waterways.

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