DALLAS - Dallas city homeowners won't be facing a tax rate increase, and most fees they pay will stay the same as well in the proposed 2012-13 budget released Thursday afternoon by City Manager Mary Suhm.
Suhm's budget, which she will present to the city council for final approval, increases general fund spending $28 million over last year, to $1.041 billion. The entire budget, including state and federal money, totals $2.57 billion.
Suhm said the city budget is improving after three years of deep cuts because the Texas and Dallas area economies continue to improve, resulting in higher property values and sales tax revenues. The city relies mainly on property and sales taxes.
That means the property tax rate should stay the same, along with garbage fees for residences. Suhm is calling for a water rate hike of 5.1 percent overall and 3.9 percent for residences to fund improvements to the system and maintenance.
Notably, the proposed budget pays for hiring 200 new police officers to keep up with annual attrition. There had been some discussion among staff and the council about whether that was necessary, considering crime has dropped sharply.
But Suhm indicated the budget will stay the course.
"And I think the results speak for themselves," she said. "Our results on crime, those reductions are matching measures that were in the 50's. So we're comfortable where we are with that."
In a sign of better times, all unpaid furlough days for uniform and civilian employees will end.
Police officers and firefighters will see a three percent base pay increase, civilian workers 1.59 percent hike. Suhm said a pay study found the city needed to sweeten civilian pay, or start losing valued workers.
"The competition is out there, we know that system needs shoring up, so we want to spend the next three years working on shoring up the total comp package," she said.
Suhm described the budget as a "maintenance" budget that keeps funding for street maintenance, and hours for parks, recreation centers, and libraries roughly the same. Its adds some money, such as $1 million for library materials, where cuts the past few years could not be sustained any longer and offer meaningful service to citizens.
Suhm briefs the council Monday on the budget and then council members will spend August getting citizen input before voting on the budget in September. The budget becomes effective October 1.
Wednesday, the council votes on holding the November bond election.
The bond amount's grown from $500 million to $642 million for streets, flood control and economic development.
The council often pressures for more pet projects. But Suhm says no more.
"That's it," she said. "No more goodies."