This is not a time of year when typical voters are paying much attention to City Hall.
But now is the time to pay attention in Fort Worth, where proposals on the table would have voters choose whether to add two City Council members, pay them more and also keep them longer.
A Charter Review Task Force has recommended having voters decide whether to draw two new council districts for a total of 10, and also whether to stretch council terms to three years at a salary of $45,000 a year, up from the current $25,000.
Council members will hear public comment at meetings Jan. 12 and Jan. 26 before deciding whether to submit the proposed changes and several others to voters. The next city election is May 7.
The 11-member advisory task force already held its own series of six meetings to accept neighborhood ideas. (The task force also discussed and discarded another idea: whether to stagger elections and choose a few council members each year. That is not being recommended for voter consideration.)
Charter review work is a thankless role, and the task force has worked hard to ask the right questions for Fort Worth’s future:
▪ Should voters consider whether to add two council positions and shrink districts from the current 100,000 residents each to about 80,000 for better representation, though at some cost of expansion?
▪ Should voters consider whether to extend council terms to three years for more continuity and more time between campaigns, but less direct accountability?
▪ And do the changes improve City Council overall?
The task force also suggested voters consider raising the mayor’s pay from $29,000 to $60,000. (Fort Worth’s mayor is paid less than some cities’ because the city manager is the chief executive here.)
All final decisions will be up to the voters in May, but the council will decide in January which changes to put on the ballot.
Now is the time to study more about proposals that will affect the way Fort Worth residents and City Hall work together for years to come.