Taxes, the city budget and what comes next

The council passed the 2009-10 budget last week, and a mess it is. One reason why I’ve waited so long to write about this is that I have run out of things to say. Call me Cassandra; the difference, of course, is that the Trojans, in their misery, knew she was right while the people downtown still don’t understand that they could have prevented this disaster with more prudence and better planning over the past couple of years.

Two points, though, are worth making. First, city officials need to change the way they approach the budget. It’s not enough to make a budget based on the assumption that sales and property tax revenues will always increase because Dallas is a wonderful city. Which, of course, is pretty much how the past three or four budgets were done.

Second, city officials need to look seriously at the property and sales taxes and to see if there is a better way to fund the budget (to say nothing of the “fees” that are used as Band-Aids when the property and sales taxes come up short). I touched on this briefly in my column in the East Dallas magazine this month, but that’s only the beginning. I don’t know that there is a better way, but it’s worth studying. I have phone calls out to various experts, and I’ll report back.



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