Fort Worth

Task force recommends pay, term increases for Fort Worth council

Fort Worth City Council chambers
Fort Worth City Council chambers Fort Worth Public Art

City Council members and the mayor would receive pay increases, and the council would grow to 10 members whose terms would be extended to three years, under proposals by a special city task force.

The 11-member Charter Review Task Force, which has been meeting since July, released its recommendation Tuesday to the council.

The council will now have public meetings to consider the recommendations on Jan. 12 and Jan. 26. The proposals would require changing the city charter, which must be submitted to voters. The council will need to decide in February if it will call such an election in May.

“We have had many, many meetings,” said Dionne Bagsby, who chaired the task force. “You gave us a task, we did the task, and we are here today to say we have finished the task.”

Currently, council members and the mayor are elected concurrently every two years. The task force recommends that the council and mayor still be elected at the same time, but terms be increased to three years, saying the current term is too short to effectively serve residents.

If approved by voters, Fort Worth’s mayor would receive $60,000 annually, up from $29,000, and council members would see a jump in pay to $45,000 annually, up from $25,000. The council and mayor last received pay raises in 2005.

“Nobody had recommended we give you less,” Bagsby said. “There were almost no comments that you were being compensated too royally, but many comments that they understood to do this job today, particularly with the growth of the city, you’re spending more time . . . and compensation should be increased.”

Bagsby said the committee also looked at compensation in other cities to base their recommendation.

But even if approved, the task force is recommending the increases become effective after the 2020 Census for the 2023 election, rather than going through the process of redistricting the city for council seats twice.

“A number of your constituents want it done overnight, however, with the voluminous amount of information we had, we certainly understand it can’t be done overnight,” Bagsby said.

The task force is also recommending the approval of changes to 23 amendments in the charter that the city’s attorney says are now inconsistent with state law, contain archaic language or are no longer being used.

Council briefs

Money approved to buy land for arena

The council approved spending $692,500 to buy a 0.263-acre tract at the northeast corner of Bryce Avenue and Montgomery Street from Bodycote, a U.K. thermal processing services company. The land, which contains a warehouse, is needed for the $450 million arena project at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The money to buy the land is coming from $12.2 million the city has set aside as seed money for the project. The city has been negotiating with Bodycote since January. It is still negotiating for an adjacent 2.5-acre tract from the company.

YMCA pool project loan

The council approved a $2.3 million forgivable loan to the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth for the construction of an aquatic facility at the planned YMCA in Renaissance Square off Mitchell Boulevard. The pool will be open to Fort Worth residents without a YMCA membership. The YMCA will be given $500,000 this fiscal year and $1.8 million in fiscal 2017. The city will also provide money for 20 years beginning in fiscal 2017 to pay for lifeguards, instructors and support staff during the months the facility is operating and open to the public. In 2012, the city began pursuing partnerships to provide pools. The YMCA approached the city in March 2014 about partnering on the aquatic facility. The pool is slated to open in May 2017.

Development incentive considered

The council will vote Dec. 8 on an economic development incentive to Dallas-based LVG Investments, which plans an $86.5 million development off White Settlement Road in an area known as Crystal Springs, once the site of a dance hall where Western swing music was made popular. Under terms of the incentive, the developer will receive $4.3 million over 15 years, or an 85 percent rebate of the city’s one-cent sales tax on retail sales at the project, called Crystal Springs on the River. The development will have 90,000 square feet for shops and restaurants, and 600 multifamily units.