FORT WORTH -- After a few tight budget years that led to cuts and consolidations, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.4 billion budget that includes a raise for most employees while adding 98 new positions to the city payroll.
The budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, gives general fund employees a 3 percent raise and also has pay increases for police and firefighters that are part of those civil service contracts. It also restores library hours and adds some positions that are mandated by police and firefighter contracts. Some of the 98 positions aren't new but were added back to the budget after initially being taken out.
To tackle more infrastructure projects, the budget shifts a penny of the tax rate from operation and maintenance to debt service. Currently, the city allocates about 16.9 percent of its property tax to fund infrastructure, the lowest of any major city in the state.
There are also increases in water and storm-water fees. Residents will see a 5 percent increase in water fees, which will impact an average customer's bill by less than $2 a month, and a 14 percent increase in storm-water fees, which will add just less than $1 a month to the average bill.
Due to the strain and uncertainty in the current economic climate, officials said they must begin working immediately on next year's budget.
Councilman Zim Zimmerman said the city "will face severe challenges with next year's budget" adding that some of the solutions are "not going to be favorably received by the public." Over the next year, Mayor Betsy Price said, the city will need to monitor economic conditions on a monthly basis to determine if projections for 2013 budget are on track.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698