Local City Council Approves New Budget

Fort Worth skyline
Fort Worth skyline with paddle boats | Image by City of Fort Worth/Facebook

Fort Worth has adopted its new budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The plan for the budget was reviewed during the Fort Worth City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke described the Fiscal Year 2024 Recommended Budget in a letter to the city council ahead of the September 19 meeting.

The city manager wrote that he believes the new budget will aid efforts to make Fort Worth a “safer, cleaner, and greener community” while maintaining the city’s growth.

Cooke presented a total budget of $2.6 billion in taxpayer money for the year. The operating fund portion of this bill would comprise about 61% of the total budget at $1.26 billion, while the remaining 39% would be encompassed in the general fund at just over $1 billion.

Cooke said the new budget is an 11.4% increase from the previous year and that the citywide budget would include 8,163 authorized positions (APs).

“This budget will raise more revenue from property taxes than last year’s budget by an amount of $65,264,597, which is a 9.2% increase from last year’s budget,” the budget document states. “The property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $21,759,142.”

This budget also includes a 20% general homestead exemption for all residential homes in the city and a $20,000 increase from $40,000 to $60,000 for homestead exemptions granted for disabled residence homestead owners and senior citizens aged 65 and up.

The budget lowers the property tax rate to 67.25 cents per $100 of assessed taxable value, a departure from the current tax rate of 71.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Council Member Alan Blaylock had motioned to lower the tax rate to a “no-new-revenue” rate; however, the proposal failed 8 to 3. Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker voiced her support for the new rate.

“We cannot fail to set up this city for the growth it is experiencing,” Parker said during the meeting. “We’re growing at a clip four times the city of Austin. Four times.”

Police and fire services will also receive salary increases as part of the budget. The budget includes a 2.5% salary bump for select city employee positions identified as “hard to fill” to assist with recruitment and retention efforts, as well as a 3% pay structure adjustment for general employees.

The city’s fire department will also gain 76 new positions, including 70 sworn firefighters.

“Adding 70 firefighters is a really huge deal and really moves us in the right direction,” Council Member Jared Williams said in the meeting.

“We anticipate job and population growth to continue as more companies and people move to Fort Worth,” said Cooke in the letter. “The FY2024 Recommended Budget is our plan to meet our responsibilities, address our challenges, improve our services, and ensure appropriate equitable investments toward infrastructure while maintaining quality services and addressing the demands of a growing city.”

The council is also considering allocating $4.2 million in transitional funding for MedStar. City spokesperson Reyne Telles said that the council will vote on the expenditure of these funds for the ambulance entity next month, according to the Fort Worth Report.

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