After more than a month of debates and several proposals to try to lower residents’ property tax bills, Dallas City Council has adopted a budget of about $4.6 billion for fiscal year 2023-24.

Along with the budget, council approved a property tax rate of $0.7357 per $100 valuation. The rate is just over a cent less than last year’s tax rate of $0.7458 per $100 valuation and less than half a cent lower than City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s initial proposed rate of $0.7393 per $100 valuation.

What happened

Dallas City Council voted 10-5 on Sept. 20 to approve the budget after discussing five amendments—only one of which passed—intended to lower the tax rate. The passed amendment reallocated $525,000 from the public works department for street maintenance to Dallas Animal Services as well as the code compliance and human resources departments.

Mayor Eric Johnson and council members Kathy Stewart, Paul Ridley, Cara Mendelsohn and Gay Donnell Willis voted against passing the budget and new tax rate.

Throughout the budget adoption process, the mayor and several council members have sought to lower the tax rate further than Broadnax originally proposed, saying the recommended decrease would not effectively lower residents’ tax bills. Despite the adopted lower rate, many residents will still see a higher tax bill because of growing property values, they argued.

This is the eighth year in a row the city has lowered the tax rate. The adopted budget is about 2% higher than the FY 2022-23 budget of $4.5 billion.

The new budget, which gives nearly every city department an increase in funding, goes into effect Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2024.

Those in favor

Council Member Paula Blackmon, who represents Lakewood and much of east Dallas, voted in favor of approving the budget and new tax rate, saying it represented a compromise.

“I will be supporting this because I feel that if you vote against it, you voted against the additional 250 [police] officers ... because you voted against a budget,” Blackmon said during the meeting. “Every item in [the budget], you either support it or you don’t. That’s how this vote goes—we don’t get to do a line-item [vote].”

Heading into the upcoming bond election and even next year’s budget, she said City Council needs to determine its core priorities and “stick to them.” If they support a lower tax rate, they should work throughout the next year to find ways to cut budget costs in other areas, she said.

Those opposed

During the Sept. 20 meeting, Ridley, who represents parts of east Dallas, called for “more performance-based budgeting.” He said some departments need “greater oversight” to monitor growth that leads to increased budget allocations.

“[That's needed] so we can tell our constituents exactly what their tax money is going to and what services are being performed that directly affect their lives and how we’re delivering those services in an efficient and effective manner,” Ridley explained. “As a result of the limited tax cuts that have been introduced into this budget, I can not support its approval.”