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Friday, January 15, 2021

More members, higher salaries proposed for Fort Worth council

The Fort Worth City Council may be getting bigger, depending on how citizens vote in the city election come May.

After spending months holding meetings and public hearings discussing proposed changes to the city charter, the Charter Review Task Force presented its final recommendations to the City Council at a Pre-Council meeting Tuesday.

The task force recommended that two additional members be added to City Council, for a total of 11 members. The council currently has nine members.

If approved by voters, the additional councilmembers will be added after redistricting following the 2020 census. Councilmembers will then be elected during the 2023 election.

During the public hearings, some citizens said they would like the city to be redistricted as soon as possible, preferably in time for the May 2017 election, Task Force Chair Dionne Bagsby said.

However, if the city were to add council members right away, the city would have to spend money on redistricting software twice. Thus, waiting until the 2020 census would be more cost effective, Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa said.

Additionally, the original July resolution creating the Charter Review Task Force stipulated that redistricting would occur after the 2020 census, which was part of the reason why the task force didn’t recommend redistricting right away, Costa said.

Along with adding councilmembers, the task force also recommended increasing councilmember terms from two years to three years, as well as electing councilmembers concurrently as opposed to electing them in staggered terms.

The task force also proposed increasing each councilmember’s salary from $25,000 to $45,000 per year and increasing the mayor’s salary from $29,000 to $60,000 per year. The increase would be effective Oct. 1 if approved by voters.

City Council will hold public hearings on the task force’s proposals during regular council meetings on Jan. 12 and 26. On Feb. 2, the council is expected to adopt an ordinance that would put the proposal on the ballot for the May election.

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