Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has made clear that he is not in favor of the $4.63 billion budget and $120 million increase in property taxes passed by the City Council.
As reported by The Dallas Express, the council approved the property tax rate increase and budget on Wednesday, but both were opposed by several members of the horseshoe, including Johnson.
After the vote, the mayor released a statement explaining his decision to vote against the budget.
“In an environment of such economic uncertainty for our residents and businesses, with inflation and interest rates being where they are, I simply could not vote for a budget that is the largest in the history of the city and that is paid for by raising taxes on our residents and businesses,” he said.
“It is simply not the case that we could not have significantly reduced the size of this budget and cut taxes without drastically cutting essential services,” Johnson continued. “Furthermore, it is preposterous to suggest that our city government could not, by being more efficient, deliver essential services next year using the same amount of tax revenue collected from Dallas residents and businesses just a year ago.”
Johnson made similar comments before the vote at Wednesday’s meeting. He specifically noted that he has a responsibility to represent the interests of all of Dallas, unlike the other council members elected to represent individual districts.
“The idea that we should lower the tax burden on Dallas residents — not lower an imaginary number, a rate, a variable in the calculation — didn’t just come to me from nowhere. It came to me from the residents of the city of Dallas. It’s actually what the residents want,” he said. “It’s what they need.”
“People in the city who want tax relief the most are actually are most economically challenged residents,” he continued. “It’s the people of color, believe it or not. At a higher rate than Dallasites overall, it’s African Americans and Latinos who are begging for property tax relief.”
Council Member Cara Mendelsohn is another official who has taken a firm stance against the bigger budget and its accompanying property tax increase.
She maintained that the “teeny tiny tax rate decrease that has been passed by this council” is actually a “property tax increase.”
“Telling people you voted for a tax rate deduction and sending them a higher bill is misleading to the residents,” she said. “They’re smart enough to understand their value has gone way up. The rate needs to go way down, or they’re going to pay a lot more.”
Furthermore, Mendelsohn argued the increased tax burden will spill beyond property owners, as landlords will consequently raise the rent on their tenants to offset their costs.
The other council members to vote against the budget were Kathy Stewart, Gay Donnell Willis, and Paul Ridley.
Those who supported the budget and the tax hike argued it is the responsibility of the City to spend funds on services for its residents. Furthermore, Council Member Jaynie Schultz argued that rising property values, which result in higher tax payments, benefit homeowners and signify that Dallas is thriving.
Council Member Carolyn King Arnold again cited “equity” as the chief reason to increase taxpayers’ burden and allow further City spending, as covered by The Dallas Express.