Before Mayor Betsy Price attended a marathon City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, she was in Austin, meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott about a whole host of issues that affect Fort Worth.
Price has always been a strong advocate for our city, so we trust she gave Abbott an earful about some of the concerns she and more than a dozen other Texas mayors raised in a letter sent to the governor last month.
Several bills working their way through the current special session have ruffled the feathers of city leaders because they seek to erode local control on issues such as property taxes, tree regulations and permitting.
The Legislature, for example, is considering proposals that would reduce the tax rate at which cities or counties could be forced to seek voter permission to increase property taxes. One bill reduces the rate to 4 percent, the other to 6 percent. The current rate is 8 percent.
That sounds like a win for homeowners who are struggling to pay ever-increasing taxes. With property values rising, many owners in North Texas are feeling the pinch.
But there are problems with these proposals, too.
If passed, they could hamstring city and county efforts to fund infrastructure and public safety and stymie the economic growth that has made North Texas such a great place to live.
Price, who was joined by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, appears to have made a strong case for local control to Abbott.
Recounting the meeting to the Texas Tribune, Price explained a big problem with the state implementing revenue caps: “Remember Texas only has for cities two strings of revenue, property tax and sales tax ... so you have to be very careful that you’re not unbalancing a system that already works very well.”
Fort Worth, she said, needs flexibility “to continue to have one of the safest big cities in the nation.”
The state should not unnecessarily regulate its ability to do that.
The good news is that Abbott seemed receptive to the suggestions offered by Price and Rawlings. Both mayors said they felt Abbott listened well to their concerns.
And since cities are the driving force behind Texas’ growth, Abbott should do more than listen — he should strongly consider making some of the policy improvements Price offered.