DALLAS -- Dallas city manager John Ware yesterday proposed a $1.09 billion budget that calls for no increase in the city's tax rate and delays many renovation and infrastructure projects until a new bond program can be authorized by voters.
"We have some bonds in there, but just a small amount," Ware told city council members during a briefing.
For the fiscal 1995 budget for the year beginning Oct. 1, Ware recommended a 5%, or $58 million, decrease over this year and would keep the city tax rate of 67.44 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The general fund budget would be about $537.87 million, or about a 2% increase, with the remaining moneys ear-marked for enterprise funds and debt service.
The budget calls for adding 47 police officers and boosting emergency medical staff and resources. It also recommends cutting 53 city positions and raising water rates by 3.9% as well as increasing storm water drainage fees.
Several city council members complimented Ware on responding to their concerns while holding the line on taxes. "I never imagined that we would have anything so noncontroversial on the first round," council member Donna Halstead said.
However, several other members indicated that a new bond program should be put before voters and implemented soon to take care of delayed projects for erosion, street improvements, and other infrastructure needs. Earlier this summer the city used what remained of the bond authorization approved by voters in 1985.
In the fiscal 1995 budget, the capital program amounts to only $99.68 million, with most money earmarked for water and wastewater treatment programs. Money will come from the sale of $44 million in revenue bonds during the fiscal year, as well as from enterprise fund revenues and interest.
"It's a very small program this year," said Teodoro Benavides, assistant city manager.
However, this fall, the city manager is expected to recommend a $150 million to $170 million bond program for street and utility improvements for the next three years, said Eric M. Kaalund, the city's assistant director of the budget and research.
Plans call for putting the bond proposal before Dallas voters on Jan. 21, although the recommendation is first subject to city council approval, Kaalund said. If all approvals are obtained from the council and voters, some bonds could be issued next summer, he said.
According to budget documents, "Many unfunded needs remain. Projects to meet Clear Air requirements, major renovations of public facilities and the repair of the city's aging infrastructure will need to be considered in the next capital bond program."
Projects planned for fiscal 1995 include $42.98 million in wastewater system improvements, $36.97 million in water system improvements, $6.5 million in street improvements, $5.8 million for a court-ordered self-insurance program, and $3.9 million in aviation improvements.
In addition, bonds could be sold this fiscal year if a new sports arena project, expected to be a joint private and public venture, is approved by the city council to replace the aging Reunion Arena.
The sports arena is scheduled to be discussed by the council this month and the council is expected to vote on the budget Sept. 18 after public hearings.