DALLAS (AP) – In order to make up a $79 million shortfall, Dallas city leaders are considering cutting city services and positions to avoid raising taxes.
“I can’t tell you there won’t be staff cuts to get this budget done,” City Manager Mary Suhm told the council Wednesday.
Suhm said about 450 full-time positions could disappear because of the shortfall. To cover the reduction in staff, especially in recreation centers and libraries, Suhm said she thinks technological improvements will allow the city to do more with less.
As such, libraries will likely keep the same hours, just with fewer employees. And city leaders feel this will keep the city from hiking taxes.
“I do not have any intention of raising taxes,” interim Mayor Dwaine Caraway said.
But the mayor and others would like to find a way to raise fees to generate revenue. Right now, revenue comes partly from sales tax, which is seeing slight month-to-month increases.
But more comes from property tax assessments, which city leaders expect to be significantly down once the county acts.
In speaking on what they feel can be cut, one councilwoman said expenses from one of two city-supported Martin Luther King Day parades aren’t needed.
“And I’m saying it and I’m saying it publicly,” Councilwoman Vonciel Hill said. “I do not think we should be funding two MLK parades.”
Hill also favors slowing the pace of new police hires.
Residents are already stepping up lobbying efforts to support services they believe shouldn’t be cut.
“Please restore the funds,” said Amber Mendek, who works for TeCo Theatrical Productions, which gets some money from community development block grants. “TeCo has a great impact on the community.”
At the TeCo theater Wednesday, Mandek said the organization teachers theater arts, primarily to children.
“That is helpful because it keeps kids off the streets, off doing unproductive things,” Mandek said.
Caraway voiced his support to the council, telling them he was “a staunch supporter of the arts.”
“I want to let TeCo know I’m a strong supporter of TeCo publicly on the front,” Caraway said.
Wednesday’s session was to get input so city budgeters can come up with ideas on how to proceed. The council will get a more full briefing next month. It must submit a new budget before October 1.