DALLAS (CBS11) – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings joined some council members in calling for the city to cut its property tax just as they did last year.
“We should always in my mind unless we’re in a state of emergency try to look at driving down that property tax. Those are our customers, those are the folks that pay the taxes,” Mayor Rawlings said.
In his proposed $3 billion budget, new City Manager T.C. Broadnax proposed keeping the property tax rate as-is and not cutting city services.
Property values in the City of Dallas jumped by $62 million in the past year alone, which is why District 7 Councilman Kevin Felder said the city can handle cutting the property tax rate. “Absolutely, I think we should always try to return as much tax dollars to the homeowners and taxpayers as possible. I’m all in favor of that.”
State lawmakers are considering bills advocated by Governor Greg Abbott to limit local government spending and property tax increases.
Mayor Rawling repeated his message to lawmakers in Austin. “We are tough on our budgets. We’re not just spending money because we have it.”
The city manager said if the council formally asks him to consider a budget with a cut in property tax rates, he’ll go back to his departments to see where they can cut and what the impact on city services would be.
District 14 Councilman Philip Kingston said his constituents aren’t complaining about property taxes. “For every contact that mentions the tax rate, we get approximately ten who are more concerned about enhancing services.”
Kingston said while he doesn’t favor cutting property taxes next year, he says might be willing to cut the tax rate the year after.
The city is spending $40 million more this year into the police and fire pension fund as required by a new state law.
To pay for it, the city is chopping the number of police officer positions it funds from a little more than 3,600 to just under 3,100.
Mayor Rawlings said, “I have gotten the assurance by our city manager that we can keep our city safe with those officers.”
Kingston said the city will now conduct a manpower study for a police department with 3,100 officers, instead of 3,600. “We have to face reality we need to keep the city safe with the reduced number of officers at least in the short term, but there’s also the greater debate about what is the right level of staffing for a police department.”
The city manager said if the council formally asks him to cut property tax rates, he’ll go back to his departments to see where they can cut — and what the impact on city services would be.