Council Report: City manager proposes lowering tax rate 4 cents for $1.8B budget

FW budget word cloud


At Tuesday’s meeting, the Fort Worth City Council voted unanimously to set the date for two public hearings on the proposed 2019-20 property tax rate of 74.75 cents per $100. The hearings are scheduled for Aug. 27 and Sept. 10, both at 7 p.m.

The tax rate proposal is almost four cents lower than the current 78.50 rate and, if approved, would continue a trend of reduction in recent years.

“It’s still probably a tad bit higher than we’d like, but with all this growth, we don’t realize property taxes until they’ve matured into the system,” District 7 Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton said. “I think David (Cooke, city manager) is doing a great job, and we’re working hard to keep them lower.”

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The council is expected to consider the proposed new tax rate, along with the rest of the 2019-20 city budget at its Sept. 17 meeting.

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke presented the city council with his proposed Fiscal Year 2020 operating budget of approximately $1.8 billion at Tuesday’s work session. It’s an increase of about $68 million, or just over 4%, from last year.

“It’s a huge responsibility, and we’re going to be responsible for each of those 1.8 billion dollars we spend,” Cooke said. “We’re making a number of assumptions, and one of the things I can tell you is we’re going to be wrong on some of those assumptions. We’ll make adjustments during the year.”

Cooke noted that the new budget accomplishes five goals set forth:

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*Increase funding for capital investment and maintenance.

*Allows for opening of new facilities and meeting current obligations.

*Institutes structures to address equity in the delivery of services.

*Addresses priority initiatives.

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*Reduces property tax rate.

The proposed new property tax rate is 74.75 cents per $100, a decrease of almost four cents from the current 78.50. The proposed property tax revenue for the next fiscal year is up almost 10%, or approximately $541.27 million.

The budget also allows for the creation of 114 net new positions within the city.

Among the new facilities are:

*Fire Station (Walsh Ranch & 287/Harmon Rd).

*Golden Triangle Library.

*Reby Carey Youth Library.

*Far North Animal Shelter.

*New Parks.

The budget also calls for full funding of city pension contributions. It was only last year that the passing of the budget was delayed as city officials worked up to the final moments allowable to approve a plan that would over time erase the billions of dollars in deficit in the pension plan.

That is something District 7 Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton said he and his fellow council members are happy to not have to deal with this time around.

“It’s a little smoother, and we’ve got those things under control,” he said.

Other highlights of goals the budget allows to be reached include creation of a police monitor program, institution of a police cadet program, neighborhood improvements, increasing staff for police patrol and code enforcement.

Included in the budget is funding of more than $87 million for the Crime Control Prevention District.

The city council is expected to adopt the budget at its Sept. 17 meeting.