Fort Worth Council Candidates Gray, Hicks Discuss Priorities, Taxes And Closing The Budget Gap
District 8 Incumbent Council Member Kelly Allen Gray joined the Fort Worth City Council in July 2012 after winning a special election to complete the unexpired term of Kathleen Hicks. Hicks left the council after seven years to run in the 33rd District Congressional race. Hicks is now trying to regain her council seat.
Kelly Allen Gray
· Age: 44
· Fort Worth City Council Member - Since July 2012
· Age: 40
· Executive Director, Sickle Cell Disease Assoc. of Tarrant Co.
· Fort Worth City Council Member- 2005-2012
· Congressional District 33 Candidate - 2012
Question #1: What is the biggest challenge facing the City of Fort Worth and why are you the best candidate in your district to assist in finding a solution?
Allen Gray: The three most critical issues facing our city are:
1) Budget - insuring we have a balanced budget that adequately reflects the true needs of our city.
2) Transportation - insuring we have different modes of transportation (rail, bus service, bikes, car service) that will complement each other and move our citizens and guests throughout the DFW Metroplex with relative ease.
3) Pension - We must work to insure our pension plan remains solvent. We must meet with all persons involved and create a solution that is amenable for our current and future retirees/employees. In the 9 months that I have served on the city council, I have rolled up my sleeves and tackled several tough issues facing our city. I have a great working relationship with the Mayor, my council colleagues, and city staff that allows me to serve my constituents with the highest level of service.
Hicks: The pension is the biggest challenge facing the City of FW as the City must work to ensure that all employee groups have their needs met, including general employees, police, and fire fighters. Clearly all involved will need to make some concessions to avoid unintentional consequences. My opponent has said she can not or will not vote on these critical issues. District 8 voters deserve a Council Member who will represent them on all issues.
Question #2: Under what circumstances would you vote to increase the City of Fort Worth property tax rate?
Allen Gray: I wouldn’t support an increase in property taxes.
Hicks: Fort Worth has some of the highest property rates of its size in the state. Moreover, this country is just now experiencing an economic recovery. The tax rate should always be considered and must be contingent amongst a number of factors.
Question #3: The City of Fort Worth has projected a $50 million budget shortfall for next year, FY 2014. If that continues to be the case, what would you propose cutting to balance the budget?
Allen Gray: My priorities in making sure we a have balanced budget include: making sure we have adequate Public Safety (police, fire, code compliance) while working to maintain and/or increase response times to our citizens; making sure we have well maintained parks, community centers, and libraries; making sure we have the needed infrastructure improvements that include streets and lighting.
Hicks: In the past, only certain areas have felt the cuts. If cuts are indeed necessary this year, I hope that they are across the board. For example, rather than close a library in a certain geographical area of the city, why not instead cut hours at all libraries and restore hours when it is fiscally possible?
Question #4: A growing number of North Texas cities are limiting lawn watering to twice a week, year round. Some are discussing more aggressive pricing to encourage water conservation. What measures should the City of Fort Worth adopt to conserve water and ensure a stable water supply in the future?
Allen Gray: The City of Fort Worth Water Department has an award winning conservation program that is effectively addressing these issues.
Hicks: I support more water conservation to ensure a stable water supply for those who will come after us. It is clear with all the extreme weather that we continue to experience that the time is now to conserve for the future.