DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has proposed three amendments to next year’s proposed $1.4 billion general fund budget.
All would cut city employees’ salaries on a sliding scale from those making more than $60,000 a year all the way up to those making the highest salaries, including City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who earns more than $400,000 a year.
The Mayor’s proposed reductions would amount to more than $6.5 million in savings.
His three proposals would put that money either toward public safety, streets, or give it back to taxpayers.
In an interview Monday, Mayor Johnson said, “We have employees at the city of Dallas who make more than the President of the United States of America. We have employees of the city of Dallas who make more than the Governor of Texas.”
The Mayor’s budget amendments come days before he and city council members will discuss and debate a total of 84 budget amendments, many of them involve the Dallas Police Department and its proposed 2020-21 $516.2 million budget.
Mayor Johnson said violent crime in the city breaks his heart.
Dallas PD statistics show the number of homicides between January 1 and August 30 of this year, 148 is close to the same period last year when there were 151.
Aggravated assaults have risen nearly 29 percent so far this year, 3,863, from the same period last year, 3006.
To combat violent crime, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the city of Dallas needs to increase spending on public safety.
“We have a violent crime problem in the city, and we’re not going to address it by putting our head in the sand. We need to fund the initiatives that are outlined in my Taskforce On Safe Communities’ recommendations. We need to continue to hire talented and well-trained police officers who are committed to community policing. That means hiring more civilians.”
The council’s long-time Public Safety Chair and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough would increase spending for the police department by about $6 million.
His amendments would boost spending to hire more police officers to meet the expected rate of attrition and for increasing de-escalation and conflict-management training.
Other council members want to cut the Dallas Police Department budget out-right or reallocate money from the department to others.
Council member Lee Kleinman said Monday he wants to reduce Dallas PD’s budget by up to $20 to $30 million.
He said his plan would not cut a single officer, but it would involve moving hundreds of sworn officers from desk jobs and special assignments into patrol.
Kleinman said he wants to save money on the department’s overtime budget, and that moving more officers into patrol would solve that. “Why are we spending one and a half times the rate when we got other officers sitting behind a desk all day, we just need to put them in police cars and get them out there and be on patrol. So that’d be a huge savings.”
He has also proposed eliminating hiring new officers and step increases for current officers.
In addition, Kleinman has proposed special police operations, including military grade weapons training and ammunition, motor jocks, and traffic.
The Councilman said he also wants to eliminate the mounted patrol, and DPD’s training academy, and move recruitment efforts out of the department. “In our training, we know that we could use a academically accredited institution to do our training and probably save $3 million, as opposed to having our officers do the training. We could do things like recruiting and save a couple of million dollars there by using a national firm.”
Council member Adam Bazaldua and six other council members have proposed similar amendments to the police department’s budget.
Bazaldua proposed, and council members David Blewett, Paula Blackmon, Chad West, Tennell Atkins, Omar Narvaez and Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano co-sponsored an amendment that would also reduce overtime.
Bazaldua said Monday that some of that money would go toward moving up hiring of 50 civilians from the 2021-22 budget to the 2020-21 budget.
Some of that overtime funding would also increase money for recommendations from Mayor Johnson’s Taskforce on Safe Communities, including adding street lights in areas with high crime and blight,
The rest of the money would be spent on other priorities sch as bike lanes, street repairs, and wage increases for the city’s part-time employees.
Bazaldua said he also wants to eliminate the mounted patrol and make some cuts in the department’s training academy, but not eliminate it altogether.
His proposal would have the academic part of the training be taught by a Dallas Community College or the regional Council of Governments, while retaining tactical and vehicular training at the DPD academy.
He said that would allow 20 officers to go work in patrol.
Both Bazaldua and Kleinman say while they support the police athletic league, they don’t believe sworn police officers should be paid to work in gyms with teenagers.
Bazaldua and Atkins want to move the program to the Parks and Recreation Department.
Council member Casey Thomas has proposed taking $3 million out of the police department’s budget and instead, using the money for grants to community-based organizations for workforce development.
The Mayor and council members will discuss and possibly vote on the budget amendments during this Wednesday’s council briefing.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH MAYOR ERIC JOHNSON HERE