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Public feedback: Fort Worth budget
September 21 @ 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm CDT
City of Fort Worth:
The city manager has recommended a $1.8 billion budget that continues to focus on infrastructure improvements while also decreasing the property tax rate.
“For a sixth consecutive year, the city’s economic outlook is positive,” City Manager David Cooke said. “Even while striving to overcome the effects of the pandemic, we have seen improvements in local job growth and sales tax collections, increases in residential and commercial property values and unexpected growth in new building permits.
“Along with Fort Worth’s impressive population growth have come increased demands on city services and infrastructure and, ultimately, the requests for and use of city dollars,” Cooke said.
The recommended budget is an increase of 4.79% over the fiscal year 2021 adopted budget. Total net taxable values used to determine revenues for fiscal year 2022 have increased to $87.3 billion, which includes a 5.3%. increase in taxable value and a 4.1% increase in new construction value.
Cooke had eight overarching goals as he headed into the 2022 budget. The recommended budget includes these accomplishments:
Goal 1: Meet obligations
The budget fully funds city pension contributions, the Police Department’s meet-and-confer obligations and the Fire Department’s collective bargaining agreement.
Goal 2: Open new facilities
The proposed budget allows the city to staff new facilities approved by the City Council and, in some cases, by voters: the future City Hall at the former Pier One building; Alliance Park; Diamond Hill Community Center; a full year of the North Animal Shelter, which opened earlier this year; and a full year of the Reby Cary Youth Library, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Saturday.
Goal 3: Improve execution of the capital plan and development services
Earlier this month, Cooke presented an outline for a five-year capital planning process aimed at replacing and improving aging infrastructure for one of the fastest-growing large cities in the nation. Cooke sketched out a five-year plan that would add $1.96 billion in capital improvements through fiscal year 2026.
The budget allows city staff to plan the 2022 Bond Program. A list of bond proposals will be announced next spring.
The proposed budget provides additional staffing in certain departments: Development Services, 10 positions; Property Management, two positions; Transportation & Public Works, one position; Water, two positions; and City Attorney, four positions.
There are no planned increases in retail water rates and no stormwater utility fee increases. However, last year’s revenue enhancements did not make the Solid Waste Fund sustainable, so additional strategies will be recommended to the City Council this fall.
Goal 4: Prioritize police staffing
Strong sales tax growth has allowed the Crime Control and Prevention District budget to include 13 new positions for neighborhood crime prevention; eight new positions for enhanced enforcement; a 33% increase in funding to partners providing community-based programs; and two planned police recruiting classes, totaling up to 95 cadets.
Police staffing additions include nine sergeants, four criminal investigation detectives, 10 civilian response specialists and one asset management position working in centralized inventory.
Goal 5: Economic development
The proposed budget allows ongoing implementation of the strategic plan for the Economic Development Department. Part of Cooke’s proposed capital budget begins to build an economic development fund to assist in attracting new industries.
Goal 6: Fix the payroll system
Cooke plans to implement recommendations from the Payroll Task Force and look at replacing the current system. Staffing would be added in the Fire Department and Human Resources to improve practices and procedures, along with contract resources in the Finance Department.
Goal 7: Make the parking and public events funds sustainable
The city’s parking fund has suffered due to fewer motorists parking downtown during the pandemic. The proposed budget would use general fund revenue to cover a portion of parking enforcement costs, and general debt funds would contribute $2.9 million to pay the parking fund’s debt service in the coming fiscal year.
The public events fund also suffered during the pandemic, with far fewer events booked at city facilities. Cooke proposed using American Rescue Plan Act funding to kick-start expansion of the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Goal 8: Sustain a competitive workforce
The proposed budget includes a 4% pay-for-performance plan for city employees. Pay adjustments would be made to ensure market-based pay. General employees did not receive pay raises in the previous budget.
The city will fund an additional paid employee holiday in 2022 after the City Council approved the Juneteenth holiday.
Give your feedback on the budget
Residents are encouraged to complete a survey to let staff and elected officials know their priorities for the city budget. Questions and comments about the budget can also be submitted via email. All questions and answers will be posted on the budget webpage.
Residents will also have several opportunities to review the proposed city budget for fiscal year 2022 and to provide feedback in the coming weeks:
Aug. 24, 7 p.m., City Hall, Council Chamber. First public hearing on the city budget, to be held during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
Sept. 14, 7 p.m., City Hall, Council Chamber. Second public hearing on the city budget; public hearing on the tax rate; and approve proposed fee changes.
Sept. 21, 3 p.m., City Hall, Council Chamber. Recommended operating and capital budget adoption; recommended adoption of tax rate.
In addition to these opportunities, a series of district town halls will be scheduled throughout the city. They will include in-person and virtual options for participation. As the meetings are confirmed, they will be posted on the 2022 budget page and on the city’s calendar.