Meetings set for taxpayer input on Fort Worth’s $2.3 billion budget plan

Fort Worth residents will have several opportunities to comment and ask questions about the city’s $2.3 billion budget proposed this week for fiscal year 2023. A series of “community engagement meetings” will be held during August and early September as the city council considers the budget and property tax rate.

The council is scheduled to adopt the budget and tax rate on Sept. 27.

A series of meetings labeled “community conversations,” all beginning at 6 p.m., will give attendees the opportunity to share thoughts on the proposed budget and ask questions by participating in a conversation circle. The meeting schedule:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 24, Boswell High School, 5805 W Bailey Boswell Rd.
  • Thursday, Sept. 1, Fire Station Community Center, 1601 Lipscomb St.
  • Thursday, Sept. 1, Chisholm Trail Community Center, 4936 McPherson Blvd.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 7, Shamblee Library, 1062 Evans Ave.
  • Thursday, Sept. 8, Rockwood Golf Course, 1851 Jacksboro Hwy.

The city also will hold four 6 p.m. council budget meetings during which participants can interact and discuss key, proposed components of departmental budgets with representatives, then participate in a Q&A session with city leaders. The dates and locations are:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 17, Summerglen Library, 4205 Basswood Blvd.
  • Monday, Aug. 22, Handley Meadowbrook Community Center, 6201 Beaty St.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 23, Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.
  • Thursday, Aug. 25, R.D. Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Rd.

    City Manager David Cooke presented the proposed budget to the council on Tuesday (Aug. 9), recommending a spending increase of 10% (about $83.4 million) over last year. It would be one of the largest increases in recent years but the additional money is needed to keep up with growth and maintaining infrastructure, Cooke said.
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Although calling for higher spending, Cooke recommended a two-cent reduction in the city’s property tax rate – to 71.25 cents (from 73.25) per $100 assessed valuation. Taxed at that rate, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay $1,425 in city property taxes.

The rate cut is good news for city taxpayers but many homeowners will nevertheless face higher property tax bills due to significant increases in property values. Higher valuations are why the city can cut the tax rate while increasing spending.

Cooke said water rates, garbage collection fees and stormwater fees will remain the same.

“The city’s economic outlook is positive, even as we continue to feel long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cooke said. “We’re seeing gains in local job growth, property values, sales tax collections and new building permits. But along with Fort Worth’s impressive population growth come increased demands on city services and infrastructure.”

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“The budget is a process and a path … years in the making,” he said. “We have to be thinking about the future. It’s about today and also what we’re doing in the long-term.”

Spending for street maintenance will increase 34.5%, from $35 million to $47 million, and include $2.6 million to fix a backlog of street light outages, up from $1.5 million, and $6.5 million for pavement markings, up from $1.4 million.

City staff is proposing an increase in the monthly environmental fee that many residents see on their utility statements with the money going toward litter cleanup and illegal dumping enforcement.

The current fee is 50 cents monthly for single-family residences. Under the proposed increase, the first since the program began in 1996, a homeowner would pay $1.50 per month. The proposed increase would generate $6 million annually, and expand capacity for other environmental projects and services, including $4 million for street sweeping.

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The budget also allocates money for additional personnel, creating approximately 300 new positions, with about 200 of those paid for in the general fund. The proposed general fund portion of the $2.4 billion budget is $915.3 million.

The police department will gain 71, including 45 new officers who will be on the streets in fiscal 2024. Also, 23 jobs will be added in the fire department and 14 people will be hired to staff a new library.