The six incoming council members will have two months to catch up on a budget process that has been in progress since February. 

The city’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1-Sept 30. The council typically adopts the budget in September after the city manager delivers a five-year capital improvement plan and annual budget.

Returning council member Cary Moon began working on the Fort Worth City budget in October. It will be difficult for new council members to catch up fast enough to make large contributions to the budget process, he said. 

“They’re behind the eight-ball,” Moon said. 

The council will have only a couple of million dollars, in the city’s billion-dollar budget, to play with, Moon said. 

Fort Worth’s newest council members were sworn into office o June 15. From left to right: Jared Williams, Leonard Firestone, Chris Nettles and Elizabeth M. Beck. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

His priority is maintaining the current tax rate. He expects the new council members to bring lots of energy and ideas, but time constraints may not allow them to make much of an impact. 

“There’s just a limited amount of time to contribute,” he said. “In the end, my door is open to help the new council members, and there’s probably a lot they could help me with, too.”

The new class of council members report they are coming in with ideas on how they would ideally like to bring money back to their districts. For Elizabeth Beck of District 9, funding public transportation is a top priority. 

Chris Nettles of District 8 wants to build his district through supporting community garden programs until they can bring in long-term solutions to increase the amount of fresh food in his district. The 76104 ZIP code, which falls in District 8, has the lowest life expectancy in the state

“We want to reallocate some of those budget items,” he said, “as well as work with tax incentives to get some of these things inside of our district.”

District 6 council member Jared Williams wants to invest in business and public safety. He mentioned investing in existing small businesses and incubating new ventures to create jobs in the district. 

“We have some investments that we really need to make in order to ensure that our neighbors are able to get around Fort Worth in an efficient, modern and safe way,” Williams said. 

Other council members said they would prioritize tax policies. 

“I will do my best to speak on behalf of the citizens of District 3,” council member Michael Crain said. “For the most part, they want to figure out a way we can continue to lower the property tax rates.”

All of the incoming council members pointed out that they have limited information about the process and a lot to learn now that they have been sworn in as council members.

During the next few weeks, they will meet with city staff to get acquainted with the budget process. 

“This provides an excellent opportunity for newly elected council members to become familiar with the budget process and their critical role in setting the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year,” Michelle Gutt, director of communications for the council, said in a statement. 

Mayor Mattie Parker will also be joining the process late. The process is one of the most important votes she will make on City Council, she said in a statement. 

Mayor Mattie Parker replaced former-mayor Betsy Price as mayor of the city. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

“I look forward to hitting the ground running with city management and City Council on the budget process, with fiscal responsibility, efficiency and superior city services that focus on safe and prosperous neighborhoods as my budget priorities,” she said. 

How you can get involved:

Residents may submit comments about the budget to FWConnection@fortworthtexas.gov. The comments will be compiled and shared with the council.

Through the summer, the city will be hosting a series of open houses and meetings where the public can share their thoughts.

Later this month, the webpage fortworthtexas.gov/2022budget will go live. There, the city will launch a survey where residents can give input on budget priorities. 

The city manager will deliver the recommended budget on Aug 10. After that, the city will hold a series of public meetings to discuss the budget. 

A series of budget workshops will be available for City Council members to ask questions about the budget. The council will then host up to four budget work sessions in August and September up until the budget is finalized. 

Finally, between Aug. 24-Sept. 14, the council will hold public hearings during City Council meetings, which will be open for public comment. 

The council is scheduled to consider adopting the budget Sept. 21. 

The new city council members’ first meeting will be Tuesday, June 22.

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Rachel Behrndt

Rachel Behrndt is a Reporting Fellow for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or 469-203-9519.

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