The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to move forward with funding allocations for the 2024 Bond Program, which includes a $75 million discretionary allocation that would be split equally among the districts.

After the council’s previous bond meeting, the City will hold the bond election in May with a capacity of $1.25 billion rather than the former $1.1 billion.

Wednesday’s straw vote was non-binding but provided direction for City Manager T.C. Broadnax and staff regarding preparation for the bond election and determining which projects in each department will be funded through the bond. It also allows the City Attorney’s Office to begin drafting the language for the bond proposal that will go before Dallas voters in May.

The proposal informally adopted by the council in a 9-6 vote was brought to the table by Council Member Cara Mendelsohn. However, the figures presented came from an amendment brought to the council Wednesday by Council Member Tennell Atkins.

It includes the following allocations:

  • Streets and transportation — $500M
  • Parks and recreation — $310.5M
  • Public safety — $90M
  • Cultural arts facilities — $75.2M
  • Discretionary — $75M
  • Housing — $61M
  • Flood protection and storm drainage — $52.1M
  • Libraries — $43.5M
  • Economic development — $29.2M
  • Homelessness — $8.5M
  • Information technology — $5M
  • Stemmons Municipal Center — $0
  • City Hall — $0

The proposal’s lack of funding for City Hall facilities drew heavy criticism from Council Member Adam Bazaldua, as did its sizable allocation to discretionary funds.

The $75 million refers to funding that will be under the discretion of each council member to direct to projects within their district. Bazaldua described the proposal as a “very bad message” to the people of Dallas.

“I despise when politicians act in a self-serving way,” he said. “And I believe this is what we would be saying to the public as a politician: ‘I want you to give me a blank check. … Let me be the sole decider.'”

“That’s not what this exercise was designed to be,” he continued. “This exercise was designed to be a collective front and to find where the needs of our city can be best met.”

However, Council Member Mendelsohn argued that the discretionary funds could be used appropriately by council members because they understand what projects their community needs.

“Every day, day in and day out, you hear the very specific needs of your community,” she said.

Mendelsohn also explained why she supports these allocations more broadly.

“I’m supportive of it because, number one, it funds streets at $500 million. I think that is the bare minimum we need to have. It funds parks at $310.5 million. Again, essential, … most of this is maintenance,” she said.

While the proposal includes fewer bond dollars for housing than others, Mendelsohn argued that the City has other avenues through which housing projects can be funded.

“Again, we have more than a dozen ways to fund affordable housing in the city. And taking out debt to do it is just a bad fiscal policy, in my opinion,” she said.

Mendelsohn made a similar argument at the last bond meeting, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

While Wednesday’s votes were non-binding, City Manager Broadnax said the council should adopt final bond allocations by February 14 to give the City enough time to prepare for the May election.