An executive committee representing nearly 8,700 current and former Dallas police officers and firefighters has agreed to a $173.3 million settlement in their decades-old class-action lawsuits against City Hall over years of back-pay claims.

The figure is an agreed-upon price that comes with caveats because it's not yet a done deal. But the agreement in such a massive case is a significant milestone — one that, while pricey, comes without a tax increase and would remove the biggest fiscal threat hanging over local government.

The agreement comes almost seven months after the Dallas City Council voted to spend $61.7 million to settle four lawsuits in Collin County over the language of a 1979 pay referendum that was pushed by police and firefighters and approved by voters, the Dallas Morning News reports. 

The city has argued that voters believed the language, which requires the pay differential between the ranks to be maintained, was only meant to apply to the one-time raises called for by the ballot initiative. But police and firefighters long insisted evidence obtained during subsequent years — in which city officials appeared to have interpreted the language as binding in all future raises — showed they were owed money they never received.

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