The new budget Fort Worth City Council approved on Tuesday will likely mean higher taxes for residents despite some opposition among council members.
Discussions among city officials over the property tax rate ahead of the vote on September 19 weighed residents’ appeal for a “no-new-revenue” (NNR) rate against the demand to grow city services.
“We cannot fail to set up this city for the growth it is experiencing,” explained Mayor Mattie Parker, according to the Fort Worth Report. “We’re growing at a clip four times the city of Austin — four times.”
Although noting that he has been getting positive feedback about advancements in public safety and infrastructure, Council Member Alan Blaylock said, “I regularly hear from my constituents that they feel overtaxed and underserved.”
While Council Members Blaylock, Charlie Lauersdorf, and Michael Crain supported a motion to reduce the city’s property tax rate to the NNR rate, it failed 8-3, as The Dallas Express reported.
City Manager David Cooke clarified that achieving an NNR rate would mean axing around $40 million in planned city improvements.
Ultimately, the rate was reduced by 4 cents, but property tax bills aren’t likely to be any lower.
The average Fort Worth homeowner will pay $1,227.76 in taxes to the city with the 20% homestead exemption taken into account. Residents will also pay approximately $26 more annually due to water and sewer rate increases.
Dallas City Council similarly approved a $4.63 billion budget with a $0.7393 property tax rate that will increase tax payments to the City by $120,472,041 — a bump of 9% year over year, as covered in The Dallas Express.
Other North Texas tax authorities, such as Tarrant County, have gone the opposite direction, slashing their tax bills, as reported by The Dallas Express.
“My city taxes go up every year,” said Karen Wiseman, a resident of Fort Worth who spoke at the meeting. “The county, Fort Worth ISD, and other surrounding cities have been able to offer their citizens tax relief this year, and I would really like to see the city of Fort Worth do the same.”
Fort Worth’s 2024 fiscal budget includes a $1.013 billion general fund aimed at enhancing police, fire, and community services.
Although the Fort Worth Police Department has struggled with attracting and retaining officers — much like neighboring Dallas — the budget authorized the creation of 106 new positions, 54 funded by the general fund and 52 through the Crime Control and Prevention District.
The new budget further provides for 76 new firefighter jobs to be created, which Council Member Jared Williams said “is a really huge deal and really moves us in the right direction.”
It will also introduce nearly 300 new city positions and offer city employees a 4% average pay raise.
Moreover, the city aims to establish a new environmental services department this coming year that will focus on managing solid waste and environmental quality.