Opinion: What is the focus of the FY 21 budget for Dayton?

By Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon

The year 2020 will go down as a trying year for many people across this state, nation, and the world. Here in Dayton, our City Council and staff have worked diligently to ensure that services throughout the spring and summer continued with limited delay. Our residents stepped up to the plate as well, adhering to social distancing guidelines and Centers for Disease Control recommendations to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

The impact of this worldwide event has been felt by people from all walks of life. The roaring economy that the United States had built up over previous years dwindled in a matter of days, but is resurgent in recent weeks and months. It is in this environment of uncertainty that local governments across the nation are having to craft their annual budgets.

The Dayton City Council has been working to ensure that essential services are met for residents in the community and that progress made in rebuilding the city’s aging infrastructure isn’t lost. This has been extremely difficult as property values have dropped within Dayton’s city limits and sales tax receipts have fallen as well.

One thing most residents may not be aware of is the volume of tax that results from the city’s railroad yards and the impact it has on the budget. The slowing of commerce nationally and even worldwide has a tremendous impact on the resources that City leaders have available to maintain city services.

In spite of these issues, the Council has been committed to major infrastructure projects to improve the water, sewer, drainage systems, as well as the quality of city streets. Many of these assets have been damaged due to major flooding events over the past three years.

Dayton has proven its resilience, having maintained major services throughout multiple declared disaster events recently. Even so, major repairs have had to occur to fix drainage outfalls, clear out ditches that were filled with soil due to years of deferred maintenance, and replace old drainage infrastructure.

The city’s streets have been a major focus for the City Council and staff, including paving many roads that had been left in disrepair for years. There are many projects in this arena that still need to be funded once the economy is stronger. Along with paving projects across the city, Council has also worked to revamp our largest public greenspace Daniel Park, so our kids can play in better facilities. These renovations are nearing completion with the park’s reopening planned within the next couple of weeks. 

Your City Council has quality of life for residents as its central focus this budget season, as they have in past budget seasons. There is a lot of work ahead of us all, as we continue building a stronger, more resilient, and dynamic community. 

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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