DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With the cost of Covid-19 straining city budgets, Dallas will present city council members Wednesday with one potential solution: a property tax increase of up to 8%
It’s the type of increase state lawmakers hoped to prevent when they passed a new law last year requiring an election be held to approve any increases over 3.5%.
They wrote in an exception, though, “for a disaster, like a tornado… or other calamity.”
When tornadoes swept through North Texas last October, the Dallas County Tax Assessor’s Office says local governments in affected areas started asking about that exception.
It advised them to seek a legal opinion. Now with the pandemic, it says any city, county, or school district could try arguing it applies to them.
The resolution set to go before Dallas City Council asks the tax assessor to calculate what an 8% property tax increase would look like.
It would also authorize the city manager to exercise “any and all options” for declared disasters under the new law “to ensure the continued financial health of the city.”
Council members, though, who have to answer to taxpayers, may not be on board.
“I’m hoping we do not pass that resolution and take it off the table,” said council member Cara Mendelsohn.
She says raising taxes is the easiest solution for a city manager facing what will no doubt be a tough budget.
The city is already forecasting a nearly $45 million revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year.
“It’s going to be painful. We’re going to have some really tough choices to make, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that one of those choices shouldn’t be to make it harder for our residents,” said Mendelsohn.