Lake Highlands Trail

Dallas City Council is elbows deep in the 2018-2019 budget, which totals $3.6 billion.

Of that, $713.4 million comes from property taxes. Sales tax makes up $311.6 million. And $325.2 million comes from other revenue, such as fines and fees. The city is proposing to lower the property-tax rate by a penny and a half, although that isn’t enough to offset rising valuations.

The first budget workshop, which includes a public hearing, is Wednesday, Sept. 5. City Council will vote on the final budget Sept. 18.

The first of two town hall meetings is slated at 6 p.m. in Lake Highlands, and residents are encouraged to provide City Councilman Adam McGough with feedback.

Here are five budget priorities that stand out.

Public safety

The starting salary for Dallas Police Department officers is $49,000, while the average starting salary in the suburbs is more like $60,000. City Councilman Scott Griggs says that when he started on City Council in 2011, the city had 3,600 officers, and now there are 3,000. The budget proposes to spend $40 million on public safety, raising the starting salary to almost $52,000.

Dallas cultural plan

A draft of the new Dallas Cultural Plan was released last week, and it includes $350,000 for neighborhood pop-up cultural centers.

Dangerous animals

Dallas Animal Services is adding a team of four officers and a supervisor to address dangerous dogs in southern Dallas. In the past year, the agency has picked up about 13,000 cats and dogs, an increase of about 18 percent over the previous year.

Climate plan

The City Manager’s office accidentally omitted a proposed Dallas climate plan, but it will be added by amendment to fund air-quality monitoring.

Alley improvements

This budget proposes spending $125 million for street repair. Of that, $60 million comes from bond funds, and $65 million will come from cash, an increase of $2 million over the previous year. The city also is implementing a pilot program to improve 25 alleys in Dallas. While the upkeep of alleys is the responsibility of homeowners, some residents cannot do the work themselves nor can afford to hire someone. The result is that garbage and recycling trucks can’t make it through alleys, and in some cases, the poor conditions damage the trucks. Part of they alley program includes trying a new sealant that is supposed to help with runoff.