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Brighter Budget News Shines On Dallas City Hall

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The future is a little brighter at Dallas City Hall – and not just because of the Mavs championship.    Council members were told Wednesday the budget outlook is not as bad as it was just a few weeks ago, but there is still a sizeable hole.

It’s hard to imagine that a deficit of ‘only’ $32-Million is good news, but a month ago it was feared to be nearly double that.

Traditionally, things like libraries are low hanging fruit for the budget ax.  “I like children’s books,” says Jennifer Molinaro as she and her brother and mom stocked up on books and DVDs at the Hampton-Illinois branch of the Dallas Public Library…one of the system’s busiest.  “I think it’s good because people who don’t have enough money to buy books or DVDs can just get themselves a library card.”

But library services seem to always be on the budget chopping block.  Currently, sales tax revenues are up slightly; property tax assessments not as low as first projected.

A total budget of more than a billion dollars must be balanced by October 1.   Council members have been struggling with it for months.  “We’re either going to have to make some trimmings or–we’re not going back to raise taxes,” warned Ron Natinksy.

Tennell Atkins agrees, sayiing, “It’s going to be painful.”  Libraries, pools, and rec centers remain most at risk, according to Tennell Atkins, who maintains the long-term solution is to lure more Big Business to Dallas.  “We’ve got to be more friendly to the private corporations,”says Atkins, “In order for them to help us to balance our budget.”

Not having a property tax hike is good news for residents like Joseph Guerra, but he’s also fond of the library.  “I think it’s important for everybody to have it and for Oak Cliff to have somewhere to go.”

Council is traditinally off for the month of July – when they come back they’ll have less than two months to get their financial house in order.

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