Dallas City Council members want to raise more funds through the 2024 Bond Program and suggest pushing the election from May to November to do so.

The 2024 Capital Bond Program is currently planned for $1 billion, but some council members say the City needs more funding, citing infrastructure costs and the deficit of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund (DPFPF).

“We have got to bring that up to speed of what the region wants, what our city expects, and our customer,” Council Member Paula Blackmon told WFAA. “We have some old pipes, some old streets. And we have to invest in that.”

Blackmon said more funds must be collected to repair crumbling infrastructure.

“Our streets, especially in D9, are crumbling,” she said. “If we don’t have a strong infrastructure, we can’t attract investment, we can’t attract businesses, and we sure aren’t going to attract people to live here.”

During a City Council budget workshop last week, Blackmon suggested that “putting [the bond election] off so that we have more information and there’s more discussion is probably a better approach than to just go in May.”

Blackmon was joined by Council Members Adam Bazaldua, Gay Donnell Willis, and Cara Mendelsohn in discussing the possibility of delaying the election to November.

Mendelsohn said the members of the bond task force “feel very rushed [and] have asked questions of staff that they have not yet gotten answers to.”

In addition to infrastructure spending, council members want to raise more funds through the bond program to address the $3 billion of unfunded liabilities in the DPFPF.

“Slowing this down a little bit will allow us to actually have some accurate numbers for our pension,” Mendelsohn said.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the cost to bail out the pension fund may fall to the Dallas taxpayer. The issue was raised during a recent City Council briefing on the $4.6 billion City budget proposed by City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

“I just think we need to be very thoughtful in not rushing this,” said Willis. “We’ve got the pending bond election, but then we’ve also got this police and fire obligation bond.”

Broadnax said he takes no issue with delaying the election but disagrees with the reasoning of delaying it in order to get more funding to address the pension deficit.

“We do not have to solve a $3 billion problem in five years or 10 years,” he said. “We’re going to lay out a plan that might take 30 years to have it fully funded at whatever state requirements we have.”

“I think the conversation around the vote and timing is a political question in some respect. I don’t think it’s really a financial question,” Broadnax continued. “I think that’s a little bit of a stretch to say that we shouldn’t issue bonds associated with capital … in May versus November whether it’s a $1 million election cost or we’ve got some plan pending for pensions.”

“At the end of the day, let’s not conflate the pension issue and the fact that we haven’t even made a decision — or even if it’s practical or reasonable to issue pension bonds — to try to not move forward with the things we know we need to have done,” he said.

Several City departments are also seeking more funding from the 2024 Bond Program, including public safety departments, the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS), and the IT department.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Fire-Rescue are requesting $465 million and $265 million, respectively. The OHS has requested $35 million.

Following the purported ransomware attack against the City of Dallas, financial officials for the City have proposed allocating $25 million of bond funds to the City IT department.

Hackers obtained the personal data of over 30,000 people, including children, after the City repeatedly maintained no sensitive information was compromised.

Council members have already authorized spending $4 million of taxpayer money on IT upgrades in response to the reported ransomware attack, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.