Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dallas' City Council: Coming Around on the Idea of a Tax Increase?

In an earlier Dallas Morning News column, I called for the our city council to consider some type of moderate tax increase to address the large deficits the we face. This, I stated and still believe, is the responsible path to proposed severe cuts in library, parks and recreation services as well as public safety.

It appears that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Apparently there are those in more affluent sections of the city who understand the devastating nature of continuing to hack away at the our social and cultural infrastructure.

"The Dallas City Council opened the floor Wednesday to residents who wanted to sound off on the city's budget woes."

"More than 30 of them did, and, with just one exception, they called for an increase in the city's property tax rate."

"The residents appeared to come from many areas of Dallas, including Preston Hollow, Lake Highlands and Oak Cliff."

"Their message was simple: Dallas has cut too deeply into services like libraries, parks, recreation centers and streets."

"Jeanne Miller, a longtime volunteer at the Skillman Southwestern branch library, called out council members who are trying to hold the line on the city's tax rate."

""For political reasons, some of you do not want to raise taxes," she said. "You say businesses and people will not want to move to Dallas if you do. That is not why they wouldn't come here. It is because our libraries would be substandard, as would our parks and streets.""

"Solomon Espie, a veteran teacher in Dallas, recalled how city tax dollars have helped boost arts programs, including dance instruction for children who cannot afford private lessons."

"And former Mayor Adelene Harrison joined a number of speakers who asked for higher taxes to restore funding for senior services and, particularly, a dental care program that has been cut."

"Similar calls to raise taxes have been sounded at a number of town hall meetings hosted by council members. And the message appears to be getting through."

Another article on the council's consideration of a tax increase can be read here.

Nearly everyone prefaces the argument for a tax increase by saying "No one likes taxes" and they're right. But everyone likes the services they provide, and the loss of jobs that accompany the loss of those services and the long term, uncalculated cost to social and civic infrastructure beg us to consider distinctions between cost and value.

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