DALLAS - Following months of controversy, Dallas city manager Jan Hart said yesterday she was resigning to become an associate director of public finance with Bear, Stearns & Co. here.

"It was an outstanding opportunity to work with many cities in financial planning, not just one city," Hart said at a news conference. "I think it is an appropriate career move."

Hart, 45, said the Bear Stearns job, which she will begin on Nov. 1, offers a higher salary and allows her to stay in Dallas while continuing to work with municipal governments. She earns $134,000 a year as city manager.

Bear Stearns executives said they would release more details during a news conference today.

Minutes before Hart's announcement, Dallas city council members approved a budget and tax rate package that could lead to a lowered bond rating from Standard & Poor's Corp.

Yesterday, council members approved a $1.17 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, an almost $26 million reduction from this year, and voted to retain a tax rate of 67.44 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

The move will reduce property tax revenues by $67.7 million in fiscal 1994, because of the city's declining tax base.

Peter D'Erchia, director of the municipal finance department for Standard & Poor's, said the rating agency will analyze whether to lower the city's bond rating from AAA to AA-plus in coming weeks. "We were looking to see them bolster the revenues," he said. He said Dallas had lost more than $9 billion in property valuation since fiscal 1989.

Dallas officials met with Standard & Poor's officials in late August, when rating agency officials said they were concerned about declining revenues and told city officials that the rating could be lowered if more revenues were not brought in and/or costs were not cut.

Concerning Hart, D'Erchia said the city manager "was instrumental in maintaining prudent financial practices and reserves despite the recession" in Dallas.

Chris Evangel, vice president of public finance for Moody's Investors Service, said, "Hart has been able to manage the city through transition times." Moody's rates Dallas Aa 1. The agency lowered the city's rating about a year ago.

Hart has been city manager since 1990 and has worked with the city for about 20 years in many executive capacities, including budget director and assistant city manager.

In recent months, she has come under increasing fire because of her decision to hire a new police chief and from Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. However, she denies that those pressures prompted her resignation as city manager.

Sources said Hart was offered a good salary in a less pressurized job than her current post, where her predecessors usually lasted only several years.

Hart said she does not anticipate that Dallas will give Bear Stearns additional business because of her move. "The city of Dallas has made those decisions based on competitive bids," she said.

Bear Stearns has had some financial dealings with Dallas in the past, helping to underwrite a general obligation bond issue last fall.

Under Hart's leadership, Dallas was named the "Best Managed City for 1992 and 1993" by Financial World magazine. She was named the Most Valuable Public Official in government management for 1992 by the City & State publication.

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