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FW city manager explains budget shortfall

Note: The following is a memo from Fort Worth City Manager Dale Fisseler, sent to employees with their paychecks on Thursday.

To All City of Fort Worth Employees:

I know that many of you are concerned about the city's fiscal year 2008-09 budget — its impact on you, your job and your families, so I wanted the opportunity to explain the types of issues we are facing this year.

As most of you know, we have a shortfall in our available reserves, our "rainy day" fund. This is the money set aside for unanticipated costs and emergencies such as the city's response to the 2005 Katrina and Rita evacuations. Departments have done a good job of identifying current year savings to help shore up our reserves. But we're still short of our goal and have a projected shortfall for several years.

These financial challenges are a result of our expenditures growing faster than our revenues and will require us to stretch city dollars.

Earlier this year, I asked every department head to take a hard look at their programs and activities to see how they align with our City Council's Strategic Goals and then to re-create their department based on 70, 80 and 90 percent of their current budgets. It has been a painful process, but it will help in identifying programs and activities that may need to be restructured.

I am convinced that these budget cuts will require us to reduce the workforce by several hundred positions. We already are working to minimize the impact on current employees by holding many of our vacant positions open.

I know it can be frustrating if a position in your area goes unfilled while another position in another department is filled. These decisions are not easy and are just part of the tough choices we will have to make this year.

A City Council workshop on the fiscal year 2008-09 budget is scheduled for May 30. It will be taped for replays on Cable TV Channel 27, and DVDs will be made available to all departments.

A number of other workshops will follow. On August 12, I'll submit my proposed budget to council. Final budget adoption is set for September 16.

These are uncertain times, and I know you have a lot of questions. The truth is I don't have all the answers yet. I can assure you, however, that I am committed to working to find the best solutions.

I appreciate the hard work you do every day, and I ask that you continue that hard work and dedication as we make important recommendations about the budget. We will work to keep you informed throughout this process.

Sincerely,Dale A. Fisseler, P.E.City Manager

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