On Tuesday, August 9, the Fort Worth City Council was presented with the proposed budget for the Fiscal Year 2023 which begins on October 1. The finalized budget is scheduled for a vote and is expected to be adopted at the normal City Council Meeting on September 27.
Key points from the proposed budget are:
- General Fund spending of $915.3 million
- Increased General Fund spending of $83.3 million compared to 2022
- An increase of 10% over 2022’s $832 million
- Overall budget spending is proposed to be $2.3 billion
- Water rates, Garbage collection fees, Stormwater fees remaining the same
- Environmental fees, part of the utility bills for the above to triple
- Increasing from $0.50 to $1.50 for single-family homes
- Increased environmental fund spending to $16.1 million from $4.9 million
- PayGo, which uses cash to pay for projects, increases by $12.3 million
Separated into several parts, the proposed budget can be found on the City of Fort Worth website here.
On its website, the city highlights such aspects of the proposed budget as a lowered property tax rate, which is seen by some as an attempt to counter the county’s increased property valuations of this past spring. Other highlights include the addition of 300 new city positions, adding 45 new police officers and 23 fire department employees to the rolls. The library will see its staffing increase by 14 people, while the Development Services Department will receive 40 new employees. The proposed budget for PayGo includes increased funding for street maintenance ($12 million more than FY2022), streetlight maintenance ($3 million more), and street markings (increased to $6.5 million). The proposed increase in environmental fees is advertised to be directed to such “Clean Fort Worth” projects such as street sweeping, litter cleanup, and enforcement of dumping ordinances.
The budget, too, seems to be an indication of the direction the city is headed. The increase in staffing for the Development Services Department is intended to provide for “faster and more efficient service to both developers planning large-scale projects and homeowners tackling improvements around the house.” Opponents of a direction that tries to attract new residents and businesses to Fort Worth before providing for those already here will point out that, in the city’s explanation, developers come before homeowners.
Residents had the opportunity to help provide direction for the budget proposal through the Steer the Budget campaign that the city held through the month of July. Residents were asked to submit their desires for the upcoming budget along with pictures that included the city’s mascot, Molly. Almost 300 responses were received with the photos posted on the city’s website.
Now that the proposal has been made to the city council, residents still have the opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts. A series of community events have been scheduled to include a presentation on the proposed budget as well as to offer time for residents to provide comments. Events for the city council to work on resolving the budget into a final format have also been scheduled but will not allow for public comment.
The city council’s work sessions are all held in the City Council Conference Room, Room 2020, of Fort Worth City Hall, 200 Texas Street, and begin at 10:00 AM and run through 5:00 PM. Those dates are:
- Friday, August 12
- Thursday, August 25
- Friday, August 26
- Thursday, September 8
- Friday, September 9
Residents, though, are invited to provide their thoughts through public comments at two types of events scheduled throughout the city: City Budget Meetings and Community Conversations.
City Budget Meetings:
- Participants interact and discuss key, proposed components of departmental budgets
- Q&A Session with city leadership
Date, Location, Address:
- Wednesday, August 17, Summerglen Library, 4205 Basswood Blvd
- Monday, August 22*, Handley Meadowbrook Community Center, 6201 Beaty Street
- Tuesday, August 23*, Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Street
- Thursday, August 25, R.D. Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Road
*Live Spanish translation provided at Handley Meadowbrook and Southwest Community Center sessions
- Attendees share thoughts on the proposed budget
- Less-formal as provides participation in a conversation circle
Date, Location, Address
- Monday, August 29*, Fire Station Community Center, 1601 Lipscomb Street
- Thursday, September 1, Chisolm Trail Community Center, 4936 McPherson Blvd
- Wednesday, September 7, Shamblee Library, 1062 Evans Avenue
- Thursday, September 8*, Rockwood Golf Course, 1851 Jacksboro Highway
* Live Spanish translation provided at the Fire Station Community Center and Rockwood Golf Course sessions
Residents who are unable to attend any of these meetings also have a chance to voice their thoughts through various means. The city has developed an online comment form linked through the FY2023 webpage that is specifically designed for budget comments. They can email the city with comments to FWConnection@fortworthtexas.gov. Residents also have the option of calling the city with comments at 817-392-1234 where both Spanish and English comments will be noted.
In addition to these budget-specific events, residents also have the chance to share their thoughts at the upcoming city council meetings at City Hall scheduled for Tuesday, August 16 (Public comment meeting); Tuesday, September 13 (Public hearing on City budget); and Tuesday, September 27 (Public hearing on tax revenue increase). The first two of these are scheduled to begin at 6:00 PM, with the September 27 meeting scheduled for a 10:00 AM start.
The September 27 meeting will conclude with the vote on the proposed budget.