As of Thursday, August 9, 2018
CLARIFICATION: The council has not approved the public safety fee itself, but rather approved asking the city attorney to draft an ordinance to establish the fee. That ordinance will be read at the council's next meeting on Sept. 4, and, if approved, will move toward final adoption at its second reading on Sept. 17.
Monday night, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved drafting an ordinance for a fee of $4.95 a month to pay for two firefighter personnel and two police officers.
Some residents spoke in favor of the fee, others against it.
One argument against the fee was that Dallas should allow recreational marijuana sales, and that would fill the funding gap to hire these additional safety responders. In response, the mayor said that is not an option, as Dallas City Council had already decided to follow federal law and not allow marijuana sales in city limits.
While the mayor is correct in one way — Dallas City Council did decide to not allow marijuana sales — he is wrong in another. The council could decide to change direction on this policy. But we don’t think it would impact the budget the way any citizens arguing in favor of marijuana shops would hope.
Nearby in Monmouth, the city received $54,608 from the state, spanning part of 2017 and into 2018, and $17,813 in local taxes collected after voters approved a 3 percent sales tax on marijuana products.
Even though $72,421 seems like a lot of money to the average person, it is not enough to pay salaries and benefits of four city personnel.
With an increase in calls to both fire and police, more people are needed to maintain the quality of life residents in Dallas have come to expect.
If the council passes the fee, which residents will pay on their water bills, we hope the council will be transparent in both the collection and spending of the money.