The city of Mesquite needs voter approval to approve budget propositions to use increased taxes to provide increased public safety.
Mesquite’s new budget announced on October 7, 2021, prioritizes public safety. The new budget creates space for fifteen new police and fire positions and more money allocated for cybersecurity, specifically for increased electronic data protection.
Finally, there are budget additions for street and alley maintenance. Each of these budget points reflects community priorities based on surveys of city residents.
These additions will be made possible through the increased property taxes. While property tax rates will remain the same, the increase in property value has led to a rise in total revenue for the city. On November 2, 2021, with early voting October 18-29, Proposition A will appear on Mesquite voter ballots with an opportunity to vote “FOR” or “AGAINST” this budget move by the city.
Proposition A will lead the average homeowner in a single-family home to pay around $10 more per month on their city taxes based on the increased property values seen throughout the city. Proposition A requires the community to vote for maintaining the current tax rate, which is 3.5% higher than the “voter-approval tax rate.”
This will allow the city to continue with its proposed budget plan. Homeowners who are 65 or older and qualify for the Homestead Exemption will not have their tax rates impacted.
Proposition A reflects the community’s priorities based on the statistics collected in recent community surveys. These surveys show that 62% of citizens highly prioritize quality police and fire services, 66% highly prioritize maintenance of city streets, and both public safety and street maintenance were ranked by the community as the biggest issues Mesquite will face in the next five years.
According to a news release from the city, the breakdown of the proposed budget includes:
- Five new police officer positions for increased neighborhood patrols plus competitive pay increases for officers. Currently, the Mesquite Police Department has 13 vacancies and ranks 13th out of 24 cities in the DFW metroplex for starting pay;
- Ten new fire department positions will provide faster response times and increase public safety. In 2020, the Mesquite Fire Department responded to more than 19,000 calls for services and ranks 10th out of 24 cities in the DFW metroplex for starting pay;
- Increased funding repairs for roadways and alley maintenance by $750,000. The funds are in the city’s general maintenance budget to repair streets and alleys affected by the severe weather conditions of droughts, heavy rains, and 100+ degree temperatures;
- Increased funding of $260,000 to improve security from cyberattacks on City computers that have sensitive data and access to operations, as well as the public’s personal information. The program includes city staff and private security for monitoring, alerts for attempted attacks, and analysis of emerging cyberattack trends;
- A new health scan program for police officers and firefighters as a part of cancer screening and overall health assessment for earlier detection of any health issues;
- A new safety program for the Peachtree entertainment and restaurant area, which includes staffing for localized patrol in that area for specific hours and days of the week to enhance security;
- A School Resource Officer for the new Vanguard High School;
- Competitive pay for city employees working in streets, solid waste, and utilities to attract and maintain staffing levels.
City Manager Cliff Keheley added to the news release, “The primary focus of this election is public safety, streets, and cybersecurity. We are a growing city of more than 40 square miles and a population of more than 150,000 residents. We are adding new neighborhoods with more than 10,000 new homes during the next few years. Our priorities are always going to be public safety and streets. We are budgeting for the services the citizens have stated are most important to them. If Proposition A does not pass, we will continue to budget funding for more police and fire staff, as well as funding for street and alley repairs, it will just be at a slower pace.”