Dallas Mayor Looking For Help In Senate After Pension Fund Bill Passes House

UPDATED | May 4, 2017 6:55 PM

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM)The bill to save the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund now moves to the Texas Senate after Texas House members gave final passage to the bill Thursday afternoon.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings spent time at the Capitol Thursday looking for any state Senator who would offer changes to the bill.

“This may very well be my Alamo,” said Rawlings.

The House vote is a defeat for Mayor Rawlings who said the legislation will cost Dallas taxpayers too much money.

The City of Dallas estimates it will cost about $33 million more next year to pay into the pension fund.

But the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund board said the city will face a $20 million increase next year.

Mayor Rawlings warns the city will have to cut funding for recreation centers, senior services, animal services and street repairs.

Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates said she wants lawmakers to give Dallas voters a chance to raise the 8.25 percent sales tax to help pay for this.

“If we had an opportunity to go to the voters with a sales tax, and I’m saying go to the voters and they could say ok, can we take a dedicated portion of an increase in the sales tax and put it towards public safety,” she said.

Gates said Dallas residents and business owners need to understand the City Council will have tough choices to make in next year’s budget.

State Senator Don Huffines, R-Dallas said, “As the bill moves to the Texas Senate, I will be a fair broker for all parties, including Dallas taxpayers and the business community that creates jobs.”

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension system issued this statement after the House passed the bill.

“We’re grateful to Texas House members for their unanimous vote to save the Dallas Police & Fire Pension fund for our active and retired first responders. The bill strengthens public safety while fulfilling the commitment to Dallas police and firefighters. We appreciate the enormous work by Chairman Dan Flynn and all those who made today’s vote possible.

“We encourage Texas senators to adopt the legislation intact to secure the pension fund’s solvency and stability. As the Dallas Police Department approaches dangerously low staffing levels, it is vital to support our first responders to encourage them to stay in Dallas.”

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