Fort Worth residents say living in the city is a good value for the taxes they pay, but indicate that street maintenance, traffic flow and the lack of swimming pools are among concerns, according to results of a citizen survey.
The City Council was briefed Thursday at the start of its annual budget workshop sessions on the initial findings of the survey conducted in the spring by Kansas-based ETC Institute. About 1,685 citizens completed the six-page survey that addressed a myriad of issues and areas. Surveys were last done in 2009 and 2002.
The council also heard about plans for a sixth police patrol division in far north Fort Worth.
In September, the council is expected to approve a nearly $1.6 billion budget for fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1, a 3.8 percent increase from fiscal 2015.
Asked about the quality of life in the city, 93 percent of the survey participants responded favorably, up from 90 percent in 2002. And when asked about the value received for their tax dollars, 83 percent responded favorably, up from 78 percent in 2002.
“I’m impressed to see improvement in the results,” said Chris Tatham, CEO of ETC Institute, noting that the city has grown tremendously since 2002.
People feel safe and are generally satisfied with city services, the survey found. But 43 percent of the respondents said they were dissatisfied with the maintenance of city streets, while more than one-third said roadway projects are delivered too slow and traffic flow on city streets could improve.
Also, 47 percent said they were dissatisfied with the availability of outdoor pools.
“The findings of the survey are what is in line with what many of us are hearing from our constituents,” Councilman Sal Espino said.
Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa told the council that the staff expects to seek development proposals this fall for construction of a 23,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres in north Fort Worth for a new police precinct. The project will cost $11 million to $14 million, he said.
The city has been wrestling with the need for a patrol division in far north Fort Worth for several years. North Fort Worth is the fastest-growing area of the city and has among the worst response times to emergency calls.
“We would like to have our facility up and running by fiscal year 2018,” Chief Rhonda Robertson told the council.
Money is earmarked in the fiscal 2016 budget for the first phase of a three-phase process to start the division. In all, 96 officers will be in the division at the end of the three years.
“This is an enhancement beyond all enhancements north of Loop 820,” said Councilman Dennis Shingleton, whose district includes the city’s far north region. “This is a game-breaker here for the quality of life north of 820. Not so much because of the number of calls, not so much because response times are so poor, it’s because there’s a certain feeling of presence there, security if you will, for those residents. It means a lot to this community.”