Latest Tarrant County property appraisals show area’s economic advantages

Posted Monday, Jul. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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As a rule one would not compare Fort Worth to the city of Detroit, 1,200 miles away and now infamously known as the largest municipality in the country to declare bankruptcy.

But the two cities do have a few things in common. Both were founded as forts, (Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit for the northern city); both were established near rivers — the Trinity in Texas and the strait of Lake Erie ( détroit is French for strait) in Michigan; and both were nicknamed for the industry that brought them acclaim: the Motor City or Motown and, of course, Cowtown.

Now it is the contrast between the two cities that is most striking. Fifty years ago, Detroit was booming and its population of 1.67 million was more than four times Fort Worth’s 356,268.

Today Cowtown is larger than Detroit with a population of more than 750,000 to Motown’s just over 700,000.

Along with the population decline, there has been an obvious decline in Detroit’s housing stock, business development and its tax base.

Almost 50 percent of property owners there in 2011 did not pay their taxes.

Without bragging, or dumping on a city that doesn’t need to be trashed any more, news last week from the Tarrant Appraisal District highlighted Fort Worth’s and Tarrant County’s good fortunes, showing that overall the county’s property values were up 2.4 percent over last year for a total of $128.67 billion.

The $3 billion increase, coming largely from new construction and about a 7 percent increase in home values, is great news for most cities in the county, which have already started budgeting for next year.

Fort Worth, for example, is facing a $50 million budget shortfall, but it would get an added $10 million if its 2.6 percent increase in valuations holds after the appraisal district completes its unresolved cases.

A few smaller cities like White Settlement, Haslet and Everman saw declines in their taxable values, but overall Tarrant County, one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, is continuing to nurture a strong economic environment.

Although higher property values mean higher taxes, many homeowners will be pleased that the housing market has made a strong comeback and that the value of their homes has increased significantly.

After all, it’s nothing like Detroit.

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