It’s budget season in the City of Fort Worth, and one of City Manager David Cooke’s proposals for the 2017 fiscal year capital budget is to reduce the property tax rate by two cents.
Cooke presented his proposals during the city council’s regular pre-council meeting on Aug. 2 – the first of several budget presentations that will take place before the council votes on the budget in September. In light of property values increasing nearly 9 percent this year, Cooke suggests lowering the property tax rate from 85.5 cents per $100 valuation to 83.5 cents per $100 valuation.
“We need to take advantage of that when we have the opportunity, not only because values are increasing some this year, but we need to reduce the property tax rate over time to be more competitive,” he said.
Revenue from property taxes currently goes toward city operations and management, debt and capital. With the property tax rate reduced, Cooke said he recommends lowering the property tax rate allocated toward debt from 17.91 cents to 17.35 cents, as well as reducing the rate allocated toward operations and management from 62.84 cents to 59.65 cents. What he recommends increasing, though, is pay-as-you-go capital (that is, paying for projects with cash instead of credit), which will go from 4.75 cents to 6.5 cents.
In addition to lowering the property tax rate and reallocating property tax revenue, Cooke also talked about proposed spending plans using money from the 2014 bond program, pay-as-you-go cash and gas well revenues. Out of $54.4 million in bond funding, most of the money ($43.9 million) will go toward street and bridge projects. The same thing goes with pay-as-you-go cash – out of $33.3 million, most of the money ($24 million) will go toward street, bridge and other transportation improvements. Out of $11.9 million in gas revenues, most of the money ($5.4 million) will be spent on technology.
“I think it’s a great plan to focus on the savings here, to focus on continuing to look at our budget not as a windfall that we can just spend, but as a fact that we are good stewards of these tax dollars,” Mayor Betsy Price said.
The city will continue discussing the budget through September. Next on the schedule is a presentation on the proposed fiscal year 2017 operating budget, which will take place Aug. 9 at the city council’s regular pre-council meeting. The council is scheduled to vote on all three items on Sept. 13.
The full schedule of budget meetings can be found on the City of Fort Worth’s website: fortworthtexas.gov/calendar