Dallas Budget Town Hall Meeting

On August 12th, I attended my first ever Dallas City Council Budget Town Hall Meeting. This was a joint meeting organized for Angela Hunt’s District 14 and Sheffie Kadane’s District 9 constituents.  As you can imagine, the meeting room at St. Thomas Aquinas church was overflowing with Dallas residents eager to hear from their council members, to ask questions, and to voice their opinions.

Mayor Leppert made a few introductory remarks, reiterating his opinion that raising taxes at this particular time will result in Dallas’s losing its competitive edge; that we have to look long term at the bigger picture of economic development.

One of his points actually makes the argument for a fully-functioning Central Library.  He spoke about the importance of “nurturing” new and small businesses in Dallas as part of the city’s economic development plans.  I have also read that new business startups in general are on the rise because people who can’t find work are starting their own businesses in order to earn a living.

Where does a new/small business owner in Dallas go to learn about starting and operating a small business (such as home-based genealogy research, graphics/photo restoration, or writing and publishing)?   How does he/she find financing advice, utilize expensive research sources and tools, or learn how to market and advertise?  They go to floors 3 through 8 of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.  The City Budget as proposed will restrict access to this vital small business resource at a time when people need it the most.

At the  Budget Town Hall, Assistant City Manager A. C. Gonzalez spent a few minutes reviewing the proposed new budget, but the majority of the meeting was devoted to remarks from audience members and Q&A with Angela and Sheffie.  Although Mayor Leppert spoke out against a tax increase, Council members Hunt and Kadane were more responsive to those in attendance who brought up the possibility of a tax increase.  Angela provided the following stats – Dallas’s current residential tax rate is 74.79 cents per hundred dollars of property valuation.  Each 1 cent increase in the tax rate would raise $8 million dollars in revenue.

At the end of the meeting, Angela and Sheffie polled the audience on their willingness to accept a tax increase.  The vote of hands appeared to be 2/3 for an increase and 1/3 opposed.  Quite a positive response, I think.

The City Manager and City Council have spent the last few years working to reduce the  expenses side of the ledger.  I believe that for the coming budget year they should look at the revenue side.

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2 Responses to Dallas Budget Town Hall Meeting

  1. Barbara Ware says:

    The City Council has approved budget enough to restore 115 positions to the library system. The central library will be open 40 hours. It is currently open 44 hours. Floors 3 through 8 will be open. It looks like the hours will be Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    Thank your city council person if they voted for the central library. If they didn’t, remind them the importance of the special collection of the central library to the city of Dallas.
    For: Caraway, Hunt, Atkins, Medrano, Jasso, Davis, Salazar and Hill.
    Against: Leppert, Allen, Natinsky, Neumann, Koop, Kadane, and Margolin.

  2. Shirley Sloat says:

    This letter was sent to my City Council Representative:

    I do want the tax increase – the maximum amount of 4.95 cents per $100 taxable valuation, since apparently that’s what it would take to adequately staff all the floors of the downtown Central Library on the days the library is open to the public.

    I feel very, very strongly about this. The 8th floor genealogy section, in particular, is currently staffed with very, very knowledgeable people and the currently-proposed staff lay-offs will be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” – it will take years and years to rebuild this expertise which has up to now has caused Dallas to be a treasured research location for people from all over the country.

    Thank you for requesting my input. I hope that you will become a leader to influence other Council members to keep our Central Library research facilities at the level of excellence that we citizens deserve and which the families of potential new businesses will find attractive.

    Shirley Sloat

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