City Leaders Decide How To Use Discretionary Funds

Dallas City Council Chambers
Dallas City Council Chambers | Image by City of Dallas

Dallas City Council members and Mayor Eric Johnson have determined where their discretionary funds from the 2024 Bond Program will go, with much of the funding being allocated toward parks, streets, and homelessness response.

Last week, the council voted to move forward with funding allocations for the $1.25 billion bond program, which includes $75 million in discretionary funds, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The funding is split evenly between the 15 members of the horseshoe, giving each official $5 million of discretionary funding. Officials are at liberty to determine how the $5 million will be spent in their district. The propositions are not yet set in stone: They will be finalized when the council officially calls for the bond election to be held in May, which it is scheduled to do next Wednesday.

Mayor Johnson and Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (D12) each directed the entirety of their $5 million to parks.

Along with funding from other council members, a total of $32,970,000 in discretionary funds are set to be used for parks, shifting the total allocation for parks in the bond package from $310,500,000 to $343,470,000, according to a Wednesday presentation from City staff.

Other council members directed their discretionary funds toward streets, homelessness response, and economic development. A total of $16.5 million in discretionary funds is being used for streets, while $10.5 million is going toward homelessness, and $8 million is going toward economic development.


Mendelsohn explained to The Dallas Express that the same mechanisms for fiscal accountability and transparency in place for the other City dollars also apply to the discretionary funds.

“There is just as much accountability for the $5 million that’s being called discretionary as there is for any other dollar in the bond package,” she said, explaining that the discretionary funds will be under the same oversight as other City expenditures.

“Council members had to put it in writing what the money would be used for. It’s published … just like any other project,” Mendelsohn continued. “If the council member was picking projects or use of money that did not reflect the district, well, now the district knows. Maybe that would influence what they think about that council member. … So that’s the transparency.”

Mendelsohn maintained her support for the inclusion of discretionary funds in the bond proposition, explaining that individual council members better understand the needs of their district than the council as a whole.

“I think allowing council members to pick these most urgent, everyday, ongoing problems … is a good thing,” she said.

Moving forward, City staff are working with council members to refine a list of projects that will be funded through the bond program. The list will be finalized by the end of February, according to the staff’s briefing on Wednesday.

Staff also shared a plan on Wednesday for dividing the $100.2 million in housing dollars. The proposition includes directing 40% of the funding toward infrastructure projects and the other 60% toward gap financing, grants, and private loans.


However, Council Member Kathy Stewart (D10) questioned why this information was shared so late in the bond process.

“We’ve asked a lot of times … around the horseshoe about … the plans for the housing dollars,” she noted. “It’s curious to me that this is just coming up now that we understand how this needs to be allocated in the propositions going forward.”

“In the future, if you could just give us all the information you can possibly think of earlier in the process, I think that could help us as we make decisions,” she told staff. “This feels like new information coming late in the conversation.”

The 2024 Bond Program, along with overall fiscal responsibility at City Hall, was also discussed on Tuesday by Mendelsohn during an event with the Metroplex Civic & Business Association, as previously reported by DX.

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