A Fort Worth councilman is questioning whether the city has done enough to save money and run departments efficiently ahead of a vote on the nearly $2 billion budget.
Across the board, council members and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price celebrated a budget that reduces the property tax rate by 3.75 cents.
But most homeowners will pay more to the city as home values in North Texas climb and the city increases some fees. The city’s estimate shows an average property tax increase of $93.44, and even with the rate reduction, Fort Worth will bring in about 9% more in property tax revenue compared with last year.
But councilman Cary Moon said the city hasn’t done enough to justify the new revenue so he won’t vote for it in September.
“We want to raise our hands and say are we’re being good stewards of the dollars we already have,” he said. “I would say we’re doing better than most cities, but not well enough to ask for more money.”
He said there are a number of fundamental things about the budget he disagrees with, mostly tied to efficient government.
City financial software is not centralized, so he believes some departments may not be collecting revenue owed by vendors in an orderly way and could be losing money through overpaying on overtime, utilities and equipment, he said.
Another inefficiency is an extra $1 million for mowing contracts, he said.
The goal is to improve how often city properties are mowed, but Moon said it creates a situation where two contractors may be paid to mow the same property.
“I know this is boring, but when I see us raising stormwater fees or property taxes it’s concerning,” he said.
Moon also disagrees with hiring a police monitor and assistant, recommendations from the Race and Culture Task Force aimed at increasing police transparency. The two-person department will cost the city just under $300,000 in 2020.