City News Roundup
It was a busy week for city news with Dallas luring Uber to open a center in Deep Ellum and the mayor launching a task force on crime.
The Dallas police chief returned to duty, and Dallas is hammering out its annual budget for 2019-2020.
Here's what happened in Dallas news this week:
Police chief returns
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall returns to duty after an extended medical leave, according to a release from the city.
Hall was on leave since mid-July; assistant Chief David Pughes stepped in as the interim leader.
City manager T.C. Broadnax said in a statement that he has encouraged Hall to limit her external activities and public appearances for the next few weeks and re-acclimate to the many projects and initiatives currently underway in the department.
Chief Hall returns to deal with a murder rate that has continued rising while she was out, and the finalizing of an annual budget that proposes a 60 percent allocation to public safety.
Chief Hall has spent two years on the job. During that time, she has restructured the Citizen’s Police Oversight Committee and sworn in the largest police recruitment class in city history.
Hotel tax debate
As the Dallas City Council has been working through the city's annual budget, reworking tourism tax has become a sticking point during discussions.
During a lengthy budget briefing on August 21, city leaders pressed staff to consider allocating some of the Hotel Occupancy Tax to arts and culture projects. VisitDallas currently receives all of the hotel tax in order to increase tourism.
Consumed by scandal, VisitDallas has spent exorbitant amounts on salaries and personal items, and the nonprofit tourism arm cannot specify a return on investment, with no way to tell if its efforts actually bring tourists to town.
City staff are preparing to present a renegotiated contract with VisitDallas to the council in October.
Council members Paula Blackman and Adam Bazaldua were among the contingent pushing staff to reroute a portion of the tens of millions of dollars collected from the hotel tax and expedite the VisitDallas contract process.
Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata listed some possibilities such as historic preservation and an arts marketing program aimed at out-of-towners. All of those fantasies must wait until city council approves a new contract with VisitDallas, potentially with less funding from the Hotel Occupancy Tax.
The Dallas city manager’s proposed $4 billion budget is being hashed out by the City Council as they wrestle with balancing public safety and quality-of-life issues.
Town hall meetings continue for citizens to voice their concerns about city functions from parks to police and from street repairs to homelessness.
Council members are hosting the final town halls August 26-29 in all corners of Dallas and online through virtual town halls. Residents can attend any of the 19 remaining town halls, regardless of council district.
The city Department of Transportation is proposing changes to seven streets. Many of the proposed changes include lane reductions and sidewalk expansions. City Council will consider changes to the Thoroughfare Plan on August 28. Those changes include:
- Eliminating two sections of Beaumont Street in the Cedars
- Reducing Beckley Avenue in Bishop Arts from four lanes to two lanes from Davis Street to Zang Boulevard
- Reducing Burbank from four lanes to three lanes near Love Field
- Eliminating Fleming Street from Jefferson Boulevard to I-35 in South Dallas
- Reducing two section of Pemberton Road from four lanes to two lanes from Great Trinity Forest Way to Lake June Road in South Dallas and Pleasant Grove.