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Dallas city council gets first look at challenging budget, with expected revenue decline

WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth logo WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth 6/18/2019 David Goins
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A new Dallas City Council on Tuesday received its first glimpse at a budget forecast that anticipates a $33.7 million revenue gap by the fall of 2020.

It's the beginning of a challenging two-year budget cycle that city council members say should include an increased emphasis on public safety, amid declining numbers of officers in the Dallas Police Department and a recent uptick in violent crime.

Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich presented a budget forecast that showed how revenues will not keep up with current expenditures as early as next year and swell to a $44.3 million revenue gap by fiscal year 2023.

"It's going to require some tough choices," city manager T.C. Broadnax told the council. "I'm asking the council to come in with clear focused glasses around the realities of we can't continue to do everything we do today."

Dallas is dealing with a number of declining revenue sources, including the cap placed on property tax revenues from the state legislature and the banning of red-light camera enforcement.

Reich said if the city was forced under the 3.5% property tax cap for the current fiscal year, it would create an estimated $25 million shortfall.

"That amount of the budget being carved out would mean a reduction of 143 police officers, 2 fire stations, 4 recreation centers, a library, 17 parks, 13 code enforcement officers and seven Dallas Animal Services officers," Reich told the council.

Senate Bill 2, passed by the Texas Legislature last month, doesn't take effect until Jan 1, 2020.

To help set council priorities going forward, Mayor Eric Johnson, in his first full day on the job, called for a special council meeting on June 24, so new members could lay out priorities for the coming year.

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