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DALLAS Furniture is a factor this week for taxpayers and local governments.

First it was missing desks and office equipment at several Justice of the Peace offices in Dallas County seen on News 8 Tuesday.

Now, $500-plus chairs are showing up at Dallas City Hall.

It's a pricey purchase that comes at a time when the city has tightened its belt more than ever.

When the City Council gets a briefing this month on the coming budget that will be tough again, at least members will be comfortable.

In the past month, the city bought new chairs for them.

They weren't adjustable any more, said City Manager Mary Suhm. Some of them, the mechanism kept them from swinging back, and flipping a council member out of a chair when broken, so it was just time to replace them. You have to replace equipment.

Suhm said the old fabric Council briefing room chairs dated to the 1980s.

Some Council members, like Ann Margolin, agreed at first they felt uncomfortable. They were not convenient, you couldn't adjust them, and so in that sense it was hard to get it sometimes where you wanted it, she said.

But then Margolin learned that each of the replacement non-leather chairs cost $540. I hadn't thought about it before, but now that you asked me that question, I think it probably wasn't necessary, she said.

Suhm said the total bill came to $8,738 for 16 new chairs.

To balance the city's $2 billion budget this year, the Council raised taxes, laid off 46 employees, and gave the remaining workers including police and fire personnel unpaid furlough days.

So the chair purchase doesn't sit well with Council member Angela Hunt. It sends the wrong message, she said. In a tough budget year like this, it doesn't convey to our taxpayers that we are doing the right thing with their money.

Suhm said that some of the old chairs could have been dangerous. But 10 of them remained durable enough for use in other city offices.

Suhm said she expects the replacement chairs to last years and years, to make sure the city gets its money s worth.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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