Arlington council approves $5.5 million for D.R. Horton move

D.R. Horton headquarters in Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth
D.R. Horton headquarters in Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives

The City Council on Tuesday night finalized a $5.5 million grant as part of a deal to bring D.R. Horton’s headquarters and 500 employees to Arlington from downtown Fort Worth.

Horton, the nation’s largest home builder, plans to build its own home in north Arlington — a $20 million, 150,000-square-foot building on 6 acres along the Interstate 30 frontage just east of North Collins Street.

The city development grant, approved 8-0, is earmarked for improvements to drainage, roadways, parking and other infrastructure.

Horton, founded in Fort Worth in 1978, moved its headquarters to Arlington in 1993. In 2004, the company returned to Fort Worth under a 10-year lease for eight floors of City Center Tower 2, which was renamed D.R. Horton Tower.

Also Tuesday, the council listened to a staff presentation of the proposed 2015-16 budget. Even by maintaining the property tax rate at 64.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, the operating budget, or the general fund, would increase by 3.9 percent because of revenue from rising property values, sales taxes and other sources.

“It’s good seeing increasing revenues that will give us the opportunity for staff salary increases and to take care of some of our initiatives such as strengthening neighborhoods and doing even more on street maintenance,” said Mayor Jeff Williams.

The budget also includes $50,000 for a six-month pilot program that would put body cameras on some police officers.

“There is a lot of public interest” in new police video technology, Police Chief Will Johnson said.

“It’s an accountability tool not only for police employees but an accountability tool for the public,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re really trying to answer the question, ‘Does it improve public trust?’”

The proposed operating budget of $221.6 million includes no property tax increase, but an increase in taxable values would amount to $10.96 more on a home with a taxable value of $104.292. A water rate increase would cost an average of $34.92 annually, and stormwater and garbage collection rates would rise $6 and $3.36 a year, respectively.

The combined increase would be $4.60 per month.

The operating budget makes up half of the city’s overall proposed budget of $440.6 million, which includes operating funds for water and sewer, debt service, street maintenance and others

The budget includes about $1.9 million to keep 23 police positions that might have been cut after the council ended the city’s red-light-camera program in May.

The city would spend $3.4 million on staff pay raises, generally paying more to those furthest below market average. The highest raises — 6 percent — would go to engineering and information technology employees, who are 13 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively, below market average.

Firefighters would get 4 percent raises, which would eliminate their market gaps. Police officers, who are less than 1 percent behind market, would get 3 percent. City Manager Trey Yelverton said he bumped police pay a little over market.

“I’m trying to get as far ahead of this as we can, to buy us a little time,” he said.

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7186

Twitter: @Kaddmann_ST