The final Dallas City Council meeting of 2022 promises to be momentous, with many important items on the agenda.
At Wednesday’s meeting, council members will vote on issues including housing projects, police funding, city construction projects, and an updated Economic Development Policy.
The City launched its original Economic Development Policy in May 2021, but a new version will be up for a vote, along with its accompanying Economic Development Incentives Policy.
City staff informed the council of the details of this plan during a briefing last Wednesday.
Assistant City Manager Majed Al-Ghafry said the updated policy captures the City’s vision of “equitable” economic development.
He said the update expands from a focus on job creation and economic growth to the “intentional incentivization of living wage jobs.” He further claimed it would incentivize private developers to invest in areas that have been “marginalized, especially in southern Dallas.”
The plan features “distinct incentive programs,” including: Tax Abatements, Community & Economic Development Loans and Grants, a Predevelopment Assistance Fund, an Infrastructure Investment Fund, Small Business & Adaptive Reuse Incentives, and “Neighborhood Empowerment” Zones.
More details on the updated Economic Development Plan and Economic Development Incentives Plan can be found in the presentation prepared by city staff.
However, these updates did encounter some resistance from the council.
Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn, District 12, was critical of some of the policy’s details and said the policy restricts the ability of the council to allocate funds appropriately.
The updated policy takes “the decision-making away” from the council and puts it in the hands of staffers, according to Mendelsohn.
The council will hear public comments during Wednesday’s meeting before voting on whether to authorize these updated policies.
Also in Wednesday’s meeting, council members will vote on whether to acquire three properties within the city limits and develop them into “mixed-income, multifamily” housing. If all three projects are approved, they will cost city taxpayers $896,000.
The council will also decide whether to authorize a one-year lease for about 20,000 square feet of space at Austin Street Center to be used for “storage, training and sheltering operations” by the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) and the Office of Emergency Management. The lease would cost city taxpayers $2.2 million and include two one-year renewal options.
Additionally, the council will vote on a two-year agreement with Fair Park First that would allow OHS to “utilize a larger space at Fair Park to provide temporary Inclement Weather Sheltering Services and related operational expenses.” The agreement would cost city taxpayers $468,000 and include two three-year renewal options.
There will also be a vote on whether to purchase new equipment for the Dallas Police Department, including body cameras, handheld radios, and sexual assault testing kits.
Additionally, council members will decide whether to adopt a 10-year, $134 million purchasing agreement for licenses that provide the use of body cameras and electronic control weapons, along with the accompanying software and hardware. COVID relief funds would cover $2 million of the price tag.
The council will also vote on whether to authorize a more than $32 million, three-year agreement for citywide grounds maintenance services. This comes as city officials are developing a plan to ban the use of gas-powered lawn care and landscaping equipment for city contractors and private citizens, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Furthermore, council members will determine whether to accept a $762,000 grant from the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, to be used for the purchase of rifle-resistant body armor for Dallas police.
The council will also vote to increase water construction services in response to the floods Dallas experienced this summer.
Toward the end of the meeting, the council will hear public comments regarding the city’s redevelopment plans for Hensley Field. Those plans have recently been stalled by chemical contamination.
The city council meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 14, and The Dallas Express will keep its readers informed on the actions taken by the council regarding these issues.