About 150 people turned out for last night’s community budget forum at the JCC. Neighbors were split into discussion groups, and then each table gave a public presentation about what they thought should be cut from the budget, and what should stay.

Almost every group said the city should hold off on hiring those 200 new cops. Instead, some suggested hiring 100 now, and staggering out the next 100 over a period. And the auditorium actually broke into applause when someone suggested a 1 to 2 percent tax increase.

More on the meeting after the jump.

Devonshire neighbor Lee Ann Harle Le Goff was just one of many who supports a tax hike. She was there to advocate on behalf of Big Thought, an educational program funded by the city that she works for.

“If we lost our funding, it’d be devastating—so yes, I’d rather pay higher taxes and keep this program running,” she told me. “I’d like to see some of our material services cut before programs that are helping people are cut.”

That seemed to be the general sentiment: Neighbors were more open to the idea of doing without material services, like waiting longer to have their potholes fixed—just as long as it meant human-oriented services, like AIDS education, would stay.

Libraries garnered the most support from everyone. Support for the arts, and healthcare for the elderly and kids were also highly ranked.

A few ideas for how the city could make money were also tossed around. One suggestion was a $1 fee to register cars, which would pay for school crossing guards. Some neighbors also suggested postponing bond sales for a year, and having trash collection just once a week—like they’re already doing in Far North Dallas. A handful of neighbors suggested the city also pull money from its TIF districts.

Several of the neighbors I talked to said they were resentful to be in this situation, like Dennis Sullivan who drove in from East Dallas to be at the meeting.

“Of course we’re angry—the city knew we were in trouble back in 2007 and they didn’t do anything. Instead they’ve done things like spend $18,000 on desks, and $200,000 on doorways for a building. They’ve done things like build that new dog park. Did we really need that now? Did we really need a dog park when the city is sinking?”


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