DALLAS — The Dallas City Council approved drafting an ordinance to establish fee through the water bill to cover the cost of two police officers and two firefighter/paramedics.
The vote was unanimous and followed a public hearing in which several people testified.
The fees would amount to $2.36 for firefighters and $2.59 for the police officers.
Police Chief Tom Simpson said citizens haven’t offered a lot of feedback since the last council meeting, but he outlined concerns raised.
He said one person said once fees like this are implemented, they never go away and asked if it would be permanent. Another said that the fee is really a tax and should be put to a vote.
Simpson said another person supported the fee, but had questions about how it would be collected and where in the city budget it would be accounted for.
He tried to answer the question regarding if the fee would be permanent.
“Our proposal would be that if in the future … the city manager comes to me and says we have additional funding, we can fund an additional police office. My recommendation would be to reduce that fee by one half,” Simpson said. “I think we should focus on reducing or mitigating the fee as much as we can as soon as we can without totally shortcutting our staffing.”
Some citizens expressed additional concerns during Monday’s public hearing, even if they supported the concept.
Dan Motley is a new Dallas resident and retired professional accountant who worked for the states of Oregon and Alaska. He said that he’s in favor of the fee, but offered accounting advice.
“I would to suggest that whatever mechanism that this money is collected, it is most easily tracked, recorded, accounted for and expended if the council were to open a special revenue fund,” he said.
Evan Taylor, a resident and owner of A-team Locksmith, said he’s had to call emergency crews to his house and witnessed situations where police had to respond.
“I think a bigger presence in both fire, EMS and the police department is needed,” Taylor said. “I think this is a good way to fund what we need.”
Another citizen said he would like restrictions in place limiting the use of the fee to the fire and police personnel.
Others said they are not supportive of the fee and asked the city to find the money within its budget or end the prohibition on marijuana dispensaries and have the tax revenue help pay for public safety needs.
Mayor Brian Dalton said marijuana dispensaries are not an option, as the council has already decided that matter. He said wording in the ordinance creating the fee would reflect that it be used for police and fire personnel only.
Gabliks said she would like to see a fund created for the fee revenue so people can see how much is collected and how it is spent.