Dallas commissioners vote down property tax increase

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on August 17, 2010 at 9:37 PM

DALLAS - Dallas County commissioners came to blows Tuesday over a plan to raise property taxes. The idea was eventually voted down.

There will be no property tax increase to take care of the county's $23-million budget shortfall. Now, it appears the budget will be balanced on the backs of county workers and with more cuts in service.

By a vote of 3-2, the Dallas County Commissioners Court said no tax increase.

"It's on life support," said Commissioner Maurine Dickey. "This penny and a half would be a little more than life support, and it won't encourage us to look at restructuring our budget; we've got to look at the whole budget."

Commissioners Mike Cantrell and John Wiley Price, supported a proposed increase that would have raised property taxes by $19 per year for the average Dallas County homeowner.

"There comes a point in time when if you're not willing to make the cuts, if you don't have the backbone to do it, then you need to raise the tax rate and have the backbone to do that and stand up and be accountable for what you do," Cantrell said.

Dallas County has the second lowest tax rate in Texas, even though it's been increased three times since 2003. But, taxpayers also pay to run Parkland Hospital, which is not in the bill.

Dickey, along with County Judge Jim Foster and Kenneth Mayfield, voted "no" to the increase, much to Price's dismay. On the table now are furloughs and a possible five percent pay cut across the board.

"At some point in time you can call it compression, but you can't continue at that level," Price said. "I mean, we're to the marrow; the hemorrhaging is going on."

E-mail: cnorton@wfaa.com

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