State of the city

Mayor Brian Dalton's state of the city address, which included priorities for downtown Dallas, was the topic of discussion at the Jan. 21 Dallas City Council meeting.

DALLAS — In his Jan. 6 state of the city address, Mayor Brian Dalton made suggestions to the Dallas City Council on what it should focus on in 2020.

His priorities were listed before the council met for its annual goal setting session later that week, but had no bearing on the council’s decisions about its plans for the coming year. The council created its own list of goals at the meeting.

However, Dalton’s speech sparked confusion among some constituents, and a debate about the address’ timing at the Jan. 21 city council meeting.

“It went all over as if that was already decided prior to us having our goal setting meeting,” said Councilor Jackie Lawson. “It was the way that it was presented that these were the priorities that were going to be looked at in the future as if our goals were already set before we had a meeting.”

Lawson said she preferred the mayor give the speech after the council meets.

Dalton said the speech, which is done annually, isn’t subject to council approval. However, he didn’t want to catch anybody off guard.

“I had given this list to the city some time ago,” Dalton said.

Councilor Ken Woods Jr. said he also had a similar conversation with a citizen, who asked why the council was meeting if the priorities were already set.

Council Terry Crawford said he didn’t perceive the state of the city address as usurping the council’s decision-making process.

“I would just like to say, I took it at face value, the state of the city address,” Crawford said. “I didn’t attach any extra importance to it. I think someone is reading stuff into a function that they shouldn’t be reading into it.”

“I kinda had the same feeling,” Woods added.

Dalton said he was appreciative of the feedback about the address, and would try not to let it contain any surprises for the council in the future.

“I will do everything I can to keep everyone engaged,” he said.

Latta provided a list of the council’s priorities and an update about the actions to be taken to accomplish them at the Jan. 21 meeting: 

  • Develop plans and strategies to increase the city water storage capacity, including purchase of lands in the city’s watershed. With that, the city should develop plans to pay for expansion beginning in the coming fiscal year.
  •  Determine desired improvememts for the police station and/ or fire station. That includes developing and implementing strategies to place a bond on the May 2021 ballot pay for the improvements.”
  • Refine plans to use revenue bonds  to repair streets in fiscal year 2020-21.
  • Begin a process in the community to discover the “Dallas identity,” including deciding “who we are and what we are.”

Latta said those goals, and plans to achieve them, will come to the council within the next couple of months.

“You’ll have objectives and actions related to that,” he said.

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