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Fort Worth Passes City Budget That Braces For Recession's Effects

In this photo, a sculpture of a longhorn steer hangs on a wall, backlit, below the words Fort Worth in the Fort Worth City Council chambers.
Christopher Connelly
/
KERA News

Fort Worth had COVID-19 and the recession in mind when putting together this year's budget. The City Council passed it unanimously on Tuesday.

The Fort Worth City Council approved a new, nearly $2 billion budget on Tuesday.

It will go into effect for the next fiscal year, which starts on October 1.

COVID-19 and the recession factored into the deliberations, and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price expects both those things to affect the city's budgets for years.

“This is a long-term stretch for cities,” she said at a panel of Texas mayors earlier this month. “We are going to see property tax off probably for the next three to four years, as we deal with vacancies from our large businesses who are leaving people at home.”

According to City Manager David Cooke’s message at the beginning of his budget proposal, he crafted the budget to keep up services for the growing city, while preparing for leaner years ahead.

The City Council passed the budget unanimously. Ann Zadeh, who represents District 9, said she would keep pushing for improvements to the city’s transit system.

"The only disappointment that I have in this budget is the lack of an increase in funding for transit going forward," she said.

Those hoping for big cuts to the police department will also be disappointed.

That didn't happen, despite local and nationwide calls to move money from police departments into social services. The police department is slated to get more than $270 million from the city’s general fund, with tens of millions more on top of that from the half-cent sales tax that provides extra funding for police and crime prevention programs.

Fort Worth did shift some money around in that sales tax fund to expand or create programs reducing the public's interaction with police.

Last week, the city approved the funds to hire a team of civilian employees who will respond to some non-emergency calls. The police department also plans to expand its crisis intervention team, allowing mental health professionals to respond to certain crises instead of officers.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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