Next Dallas mayor will face leaner city budget

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on May 16, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 17 at 3:16 PM

DALLAS — Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle will face each other in a runoff election next month for Dallas mayor.

Whoever wins will then face a tough math problem.

A preliminary plan that City Manager Mary Suhm will brief the City Council on this Wednesday already shows the city with a $79.3 million gap for the municipal budget starting October 1.

A first round of potential cuts would lower that number by $20 million.

Some popular programs on the list for cuts aren't even among those worth saving if funding becomes available in the city manager's latest preliminary budget.

  • 12 of 43 recreation centers would close, cutting 45 full-time jobs
  • 8 of 16 community pools would not open, with 15 jobs slashed

A tax increase by the City Council saved some park recreation programs last year, but several Council members say that's not likely to happen this time around.

"I'm certainly committed to not raising taxes," Council member Ann Margolin said. "We'll see what the legislature does; we'll see what happens as the next months go on; but that's my position right now, and I'm pretty sure it's going to stay my position."

The central library and branch libraries also face reductions again. The early budget cuts 93 jobs due to technology taking over some tasks, but also fewer personal services will be offered as a result.

Overall, about 450 full-time jobs would be cut from the city budget, and that frustrates city workers.

"Morale is at an all-time low," said Ernesto Peña, who represents the North Texas Association of Public Employees. "I mean, it's a constant — every year under this city manager we've been looking at either RIFs — reductions in force — or pay cuts."

Public safety is up for firm cuts. One-hundred-and-eighteen civilian jobs in places like the police department's auto pound and property room would be gone.

It is all evidence of another tough budget year ahead for the City of Dallas.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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