Dallas voters will face an unusual hybrid on the ballot May 3, for the proposed bond package comes in two tiers: A $371 million version, Propositions 1 through 8, which requires no tax increase, and a $555 million version, Propositions 9-17, which does.
The mayor and her opponent, Mary Poss, do not support the second tier bond package, probably because they view support for a tax increase as election-year suicide. But I, for once, am in favor of the city’s plan to spend my money, even if it means my taxes will go up. Unlike the last bond proposal, which earmarked money for the American Airlines Center, this one focuses on the goods and services that Dallas needs to remain a vital, dynamic urban center with amenities that all its citizens can enjoy, not just those who are interested in professional athletics.
According to the Dallas Morning News, “Residents list streets as priority No. 1.” And Proposition 1 and Proposition 10 designate $266.9 million for streets, and would “allow the city to upgrade 80 percent of major thoroughfares to at least ‘satisfactory’ condition” and “include additional ‘specified’ street projects, spread across the city…” Well, that certainly has my vote. I’m hoping that light rail and mass transit eventually siphon traffic off the major commuter arteries in our city, but until they do, we have no choice but to upgrade the roads we have. I know I can’t be the only one who is tired of falling into potholes the size of moon craters every time I go to work.
And, while I understand concern for a tax hike in today’s economy, I don’t think the rate hike is astronomical for the goods and services the proposal provides, many of which the city needs and shouldn’t have to do without. The News’ analysis of Tier 2 quotes an “estimated $36.58 in additional yearly taxes on a homestead valued at $125,632.”
But the main reasons I like the bond proposal, and the reason that I can live with a tax hike, are the amenities that it includes that impact the quality of our daily lives and maintain our city as a desirable place to live. I’m all for money spent on parks for children to play in and green spaces that soften our urban landscape, and for support of amenities such as the zoo, the Arboretum and Fair Park. The buildings at Fair Park are an architectural treasure and a jewel of Dallas history that are badly tarnished, and it would be such a shame for future generations to attend a state fair that no longer contained this grandiose architecture. Proposition 11 dedicates funds to these sites that the entire community enjoys at little or nominal fees, and I certainly think they deserve support if we can raise money for new sports arenas that aren’t utilized by nearly the number of people.
Proposition 12 earmarks money for the arts and for the venues and performance companies that are often overlooked when private donors hand out funds. Often the performing arts are the character of a great city; can you imagine New York City without live theater, San Francisco without the opera or New Orleans without street fairs and music? I’d like Dallas to be known for its arts projects and performance opportunities, in addition to the renown of its athletic teams. Professional athletics add flavor to the quality of life in a metropolitan area, but the arts add substance and world-class status.
The complete bond package provides a future for Dallas that is bold, yet responsible. It balances our need for improved city services and facilities with programs that enrich our lives and enhance the value of our city, and I think that’s a good investment. A vote for Propositions 1-17 is a vote for a city that we can be proud of, and if Laura Miller is re-elected, you know she’ll be watching how they spend every thin dime.