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Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s goals for 2022 include lower tax rate, more affordable housing

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

The mayor announced what he wants Dallas City Council committees to tackle next year.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks during a December 2021 press conference at City Hall. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

By Everton Bailey Jr.

New Dallas rules and policies that’ll prevent environmental hazards like Shingle Mountain, increase access to affordable housing and drop the city’s property tax rate from among the highest in the state are some of the issues Mayor Eric Johnson wants the City Council to tackle in 2022.

Johnson announced Friday four dozen priorities he wants council members to address and oversee through their committees. The list could change depending on new issues that arise through the year.

“If we focus on these committee priorities, which were developed with feedback from committee chairs, we will make our city stronger, safer, healthier, more vibrant, and more equitable,” he said in a memo to council members and other city officials.

Council committees typically meet once a month to discuss city issues in areas like public safety, transportation and infrastructure, and housing and homelessness. The groups, made up of no more than seven council members, receive updates on different city operations, and recommend policy changes and other amendments to the full 15-member council.

The mayor picks the leaders of each committee. The priorities cover the City Council’s eight permanent committees. There are four other council groups that are temporary or don’t meet as frequently, such as one dedicated to COVID-19 recovery and assistance and another on judicial nominations.

Johnson didn’t announce priorities for those since they are ad hoc committees, according to the mayor’s office.

Among the mayor’s priorities for the council committees are:

  • Recommend ways the city can modernize rules and equipment to make sure all its technology and data are secure and efficient. After a city employee deleted millions of police files earlier this year, an internal report revealed Dallas’ IT department lacked basic policies and practices that could have prevented it from happening. Also, aging equipment and outdated computer operating system led to firefighters not being notified of emergency calls through station alerting systems.
  • Continue working on plans to redevelop the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and the surrounding area. City officials wants to upgrade the downtown convention center to foster more economic development and bring in more money via bigger events and more tourism. The city has approved one funding plan and is considering another. Both are estimated to bring in billions of dollars over 30 years to help pay for it. A consultant firm and convention center officials say the best option is scraping the current facility and building a new one nearby so Dallas can keep up with other major cities.
  • Recommend new rules, including zoning changes, to address neighborhood environmental concerns and prevent hazardous threats such as Shingle Mountain — a six-story tall pile of ground-up roofing debris that sat for years in southeast Oak Cliff, violating city and state law and health concerns for neighbors. It was removed earlier this year. Residents hope the site can be turned into a park.
  • Coming up with new ways to attract businesses to Dallas and support the growth of existing ones.
  • Recommend changes to the city’s housing policy to spark more affordable housing development and break down racial gaps in access. A report released earlier this week reviewing Dallas’ 3-year-old comprehensive housing policy found it doesn’t do enough to lay out how the city plans to create and pay for enough affordable housing to close gaps. The report also found the policy doesn’t do enough to acknowledge historic racist city practices that displaced and excluded Black and Latino residents and erase lingering impacts.
  • Oversee the creation of a citywide racial equity plan. The strategy is meant to address historic racial disparities in Dallas and could be completed next summer. The city currently has no such plan.
  • Develop plans to lower the property tax rate more so it’s more comparable to neighboring cities. In September, the City Council approved a 0.3-cent property tax rate decrease to 77.33 cents per $100 valuation. Dallas’ property tax rate has decreased every year since 2016, but it’s still one of the highest in Texas. Only El Paso, which has a 90.73 cents per $100 valuation, has a higher one.

Here’s the full memo with all 48 council committee priorities for 2022.

[READ THE MEMO]

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