Danny Beyer is a second-term member of the Dallas Center City Council.
An open letter to Julie Becker and Bob Haxton (and the residents of Dallas Center):
The city of Dallas Center lost its local newspaper many years ago. Besides being a place of public information and advertising, we also lost the ability to contribute to “Letters to the Editor” and other forms of public discourse. Given the rise of social media and its prevalence in our society, I have opted to pen a short opinion piece after a conversation at tonight’s Library Board of Directors meeting.
Whether you are new to town or many generations deep, this note is written both for your benefit and all those who call Dallas Center home. I hope you consider the thoughts below, and I encourage you to participate by messaging me directly or leaving me a comment. If you have thoughts, suggestions, or simply want to voice your opinion, do so. I will do my absolute best to respond to all of you and yes, this includes you, Bob and Julie.
Over the last several years, the actions of our city council and many volunteers in the community have been questioned, ridiculed and occasionally attacked. Make no mistake, I completely and fully support the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and I will fight to ensure it is maintained, hence no comments or participants in my Council Facebook page have ever been blocked or any comments deleted.
I believe there is a basic right to open and public dialogue as both the state and federal laws dictate, and I support them 100%. I also support the open record laws and believe in their integrity in order to balance the power and oversight of government at all levels. With that in mind, I’d like to lay out the following truths that I see as a council member. Please keep in mind, these are my thoughts alone and do not represent the council or the city as a whole.
1. Maintaining city infrastructure is, and has been, the number one priority of the council. We need to make sure water is safe, sewer is working and the streets are maintained. Since 2015 roughly $900,000 has been spent on street repairs alone.
2. Public safety is nearly as important as infrastructure. This is why the city outsourced police protection to the Dallas County Sheriff and continues to enjoy the benefits of added patrol and resources. Savings is currently being put aside for a new, updated fire truck, and additional savings were used to buy the volunteers updated equipment should they be called into an emergency.
3. Providing quality of life for the residents of Dallas Center has been, and will continue to be, my next priority. These projects tend to get more press and attention because they can be physically seen verses pipes being put in the ground. The trailhead restroom and art, ice skating rink and the library addition are all projects that continue to make life better for our residents and attract visitors to our community.
4. Of course, all of these things cost money, which leads to my final priority, keeping the cost of living in check by managing property tax rates and the various utility rates. Did I vote for increases in the sewer rates and water rates? I did and would again if it meant upgrading and keeping our aging infrastructure working. Did I vote for a levy rate increase in order to put in the SW Stormwater project? I did. Did I also vote to lower it to levels the city hasn’t seen since before 2015? I did. Did I vote to keep it at a steady level for the last two years while spending more on additional infrastructure needs? I did and would do again.
Did I know what I was getting into when I ran to be appointed to city council in 2015? Not even close. Has it been the honor and one of the highlights of my service career? Without a doubt. I never imagined we, as a community of residences, volunteers, staff members and donors, would be able to achieve so much in so little time. I can’t thank all of you who support and continue to help us move our little community forward enough.
To Julie and Bob, I know you want to see Dallas Center as a prosperous town long after you’re gone. I can hear it in your requests and see it by your claims. We disagree on spending and priorities and will likely continue to as long as I’m on council. You know what? That’s okay. I’m not opposed to differing opinions, and I can see your dedication by your ongoing attendance alone. I would like to encourage you to continue participating, and I would ask that you begin to play by the rules that you so vehemently support.
As I have said many times to both of you, please don’t hesitate to email me with questions or requests. I will not turn away from a written message from you. Please stop trying to catch employees, council members and volunteers in “Got You” moments by requesting or asking spur-of-the-moment questions in public forums. Many of the questions that were asked at the library board meeting tonight could have easily been answered with a quick email, and you wouldn’t have to wait for the public meeting to get your information.
My final thought for everyone, please keep in mind that information changes and I, along with everyone else, am allowed to change my mind. I said the words, “The library will be built with donations only.” The information changed when we started receiving local option sales tax (LOST) funds, and COVID-19 cut the cost of construction by nearly 30%. Suddenly, we were able to build a library addition for less cost without increasing the property tax rate. Does it mean we have to use a small portion ($100,000 or less) of property taxes to finish it? Maybe, the verdict is still out. But I will gladly spend that money to have the project done years ahead of schedule for less cost than we ever dreamed. As information continues to change, it is okay for leaders to change their minds.
So, everyone, please continue the dialogue, continue the discussion, continue challenging me. As one of the best leaders and mentors I personally know has said over and over, “I don’t live in a vacuum, and I’m sure there are better ways to do what I’ve always done. I know there are smarter people than me out there. Why would I stop them from making me better?” Continue to make me, and all of us, better. I look forward to serving you all for many years to come, and I can’t wait to see what Dallas Center has in store next!