DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police officers and firefighters protect and serve and many residents consider them the backbone of every city. But as Dallas leaders stare at a projected budget gap worth tens of millions of dollars next year, Mayor Mike Rawlings says even police, fire and the courts have to be on the table for potential cuts.
“You have to go to the biggest part of the budget, which 60 percent is public safety. We shouldn’t just continually assume that everyone’s percentage of budgets are sacrosanct.”
Next year’s proposed budget approaches $1.2 billion.
Councilman Dwaine Caraway, who sits on the Public Safety Committee, agrees with the Mayor about closely studying the public safety budget. “A lot of mayors do not say that openly,” said Caraway. “It has always been that it is completely untouchable. It doesn’t have to be.”
Talk of potential cuts to public safety comes as the city projects record property and sales tax revenues next year. Total revenues are projected to jump by $28.4 million.
But the problem is spending is projected to rise by $58.4 million; leaving a projected $30 million hole. Despite this, police officers and firefighters will receive raises next year, and the city is still planning to add 20 police officers. But one area identified by the city in need of more efficient is police overtime. Both Rawlings and Caraway couldn’t talk about specifics of the budget, but Caraway insists, “It will not be a broad cut, if any at all.”
The city’s violent crime rate has dropped sharply in the last ten years; an achievement the Mayor praised. When asked how big of a concern it is if the public safety budget is cut and the crime rate were to rise, Mayor Rawlings said, “I will not accept the crime rate going back up.”
Police chief David Brown issued the following statement Thursday:
“I believe we all need to be good stewards of the tax payers’ money. I have been a recession-era chief having been appointed in 2010 at the start of the “Great Recession.” I have had an operational philosophy of doing more with less.”
The Dallas Police Association and the Dallas Firefighters unions didn’t return CBS 11 New’s phone calls about the issue. City managers said they will eliminate the budget gap and present the city council with a balanced budget by August.
Council members will vote on the budget September 17.
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