Fort Worth

Want to weigh in on Fort Worth taxes? Here’s when you can tell the city what you think

If you want to weigh in on Fort Worth’s roughly $1.8 billion budget or the proposed city tax rate you’ll have two opportunities to tell the City Council what you think.

Public hearings will be held regarding the budget and tax rate during the council’s regular meetings on Aug. 27 and Sept. 10. The council meets at City Hall, 200 Texas Street, at 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Proponents and opponents of the the tax rate are welcome to present their views, but must sign up before 5 p.m. the day of the meeting. Folks can sign up online, by calling 817-392-6196 or in the city secretary’s office.

The council is expected to approve the budget Sept. 17.

City Manger David Cooke unveiled a proposed budget last week of more than $1.775 billion that relies on a tax rate of 74.75. That’s a 3.75-cent reduction in the city’s rate from last year, but many homeowners who saw increased appraisals will still pay more. The owner of a home valued at $200,000 with a homestead exemption would pay $1,119.60 in city property taxes.

Homeowners will also pay more in stormwater and sanitary sewer fees to support increased costs and improvements.

The 2020 budget focuses heavily on infrastructure improvements and maintenance, much of which Cooke said will target minority and low income neighborhoods.

The budget includes a $1.5 million boost to transit programs along with about $4.25 million more for street, sidewalk, alleyway and lighting work.

Residents will see a 6.5% increase in stormwater fees to support up to $70 million in bond-funded work to tackle flash flooding problems.

Cooke said Tuesday he would also recommend an increase to the water and sewer fee to cover increased costs for infrastructure and department personnel. The typical home owner will pay $2.47 more a month or less than $30 a year.

The city’s operating budget will see a roughly $68.3 million increase over last year. The police department makes up up the bulk of the general fund at $267.2 million followed by the fire department at $159.4 million. Both will departments will see increased funding and more staff in 2020.

The majority of the new positions will be in the police department. The department could get 58 new positions, including 35 officers and 21 cadets. A new fire station at Highway 287 and Harmon Road will include 14 new firefighters.

Cooke’s budget includes adding several new positions to other city departments, including a civilian police monitor and a diversity and inclusion director. The diversity and inclusion department will have a budget of more than $942,000.

The code compliance department will also see a boost with six new code enforcement officers and 29 additional animal control officers for a north animal shelter. In addition an events coordinator the library will add 10 employees, primarily for the new Reby Cary Youth Library.

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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.
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