The city of Dallas recently asked the public to attend a budget workshop to discuss its finances—and apparently, not that many people showed up. Now, I’m sure Dallas taxpayers had many good reasons why they couldn’t make this particular meeting, i.e. work, school, taking care of family, etc. But the public might want to make an effort to show up to the next meeting and raise a few points.
No. 1: The city’s tax burden is growing 2.5 times faster than the rate of population growth and inflation. Here are the numbers to prove it.
Population & Inflation
- In 2018, the city’s population totaled: 1,341,802
- In 2022, the city’s population totaled: 1,299,544
- From 2018 to 2022, the city’s population decreased by: -3.15%
- In 2018, the Consumer Price Index (CPI—U.S. City Avg., All Items) annual avg. was: 251.107
- In 2022, the CPI annual avg. was: 292.655
- From 2018 to 2022, the CPI annual avg. increased by: +16.55%
- From 2018 to 2022, population and inflation increased by a combined: +13.4%
Property Tax (In millions)
- In 2018, the city’s property tax levy totaled: $1,012.73
- In 2022, the city’s property tax levy totaled: $1,347.81
- From 2018 to 2022, the city’s property tax increased by a total of: +33.09%
This mismatch evidenced here raises an interesting question. If the tax burden continues to grow aggressively, then will the city’s population decline accelerate further? Perhaps.
No. 2: City spending is growing faster than it should. In fact, both the city’s General Fund (GF) budget as well as its All Funds (AF) budget, its total budget, are growing at about twice the rate of population growth plus inflation.
- In FY 2018-19, the city’s GF budget totaled: $1,365,966,274
- In FY 2022-23, the city’s GF budget totaled: $1,706,814,187
- From FY 2018-19 to FY 2022-23, the city’s GF budget increased: +24.95%
- In FY 2018-19, the city’s AF budget totaled: $3,586,966,274
- In FY 2022-23, the city’s AF budget totaled: $4,505,107,152
- From FY 2018-19 to FY 2022-23, the city’s AF budget increased: +25.6%
Some of this spending increase might be explained away by inflation, but not all of it. And considering the discrepancy between expenditure growth and population and inflation, it might be time to start asking what they’re spending it on.
No. 3: Over the last five years, the growth in city debt has been fairly reasonable. However, that could be about to change.
- In 2018, the city’s local debt outstanding (principal only) totaled: $4,242,063,437
- In 2022, the city’s local debt outstanding totaled: $4,619,785,416
- From 2018 to 2022, the city’s local debt outstanding increased by: +8.9%
- In 2018, the city’s local debt service outstanding (principal & interest) totaled: $6,595,018,419
- In 2022, the city’s local debt service outstanding totaled: $6,674,650,419
- From 2018 to 2022, the city’s local debt service outstanding increased by: +1.2%
Voters will have to ultimately determine the merits of any forthcoming bond program, but it’s not too early to start asking which capital projects, if any, the city could be paying for, in part or in whole, out of the excesses in its current budget.
Those are just a few questions that the public will hopefully start asking soon.
 Includes Operating budget, Capital budget, and Enterprise Capital budget totals.