Dallas City Council members David Blewett and Paula Blackmon hosted a virtual meeting Tuesday to present the proposed City of Dallas budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. There is plenty of detail in the 600-page budget. You are spared from that, but some broad themes did emerge.

The overall budget, including operating expenses and capital, is balanced and, essentially, flat. The reforecast for fiscal year 2019-2020 budget is $3.853 billion, and the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget under review is $3.831 billion, a decrease of one-half of 1 percent.

Widely known was the decrease in sales tax revenue, down nearly $30 million from last year’s budget, from the shutdown wrought by the pandemic.

However, property tax revenue will make up for the lost sales tax, and then some. The City will collect $57.5 million more in property taxes than last year. Of this, new construction accounts for $34.8 million, and $22.7 million will be from new appraised values on existing property. The City does not propose to increase the tax rate, maintaining last year’s rate of 77.66 cents for every $100 of value, because of new construction added to the tax rolls and higher appraised values on existing property.

That does not mean less money for the City from citizens in fiscal year 2020-2021. Fees for water, sanitation and storm drainage all go up. The City’s presentation included this slide, which shows the impact on an average resident’s annual payments for taxes and services.

The City of Dallas does not propose to “defund” the police. In fact, the forecast for the remainder of this year shows a total police expense of $501 million for fiscal year 2019-2020 and a budget of $516 million for FY 2020-2021. However, under the banner of “Responsible, Equitable, Accountable and Legitimate,” the City does propose additional resources committed for REAL Change and REAL Action. Money is targeted for an expanded alternative approach for mental health calls, mobile response teams for immediate social service needs, diverting public intoxication services from jail to recovery centers, transitioning some positions to non-uniform, improving police training, assistance for those released from prison, more resources for youth programs and other initiatives.

There will be more public meetings and Council gatherings where individual Council members may present amendments to the budget in August and September. On Sept. 23, the Council is scheduled to adopt the final budget. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The 600 pager, as well as more manageable summaries of the budget, can be viewed and downloaded at financialtransparency.dallascityhall.com.

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