Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Fort Worth is feeling optimistic about its financial future.
That optimism is reflected in the proposed general fund budget for fiscal year 2023, which includes $915.3 million to be spread across city departments. The money will also fund 197 new city staff positions.
City Manager David Cooke announced five strategic priorities when presenting the budget proposal in early August: a safe and clean community, infrastructure stewardship, supporting growth, workforce recruitment and retention and tax rate reduction.
The Fort Worth Report broke down what the city manager recommended to council members, and what changes the city could see going into next fiscal year.
The general fund budget is nearly $83 million larger than the previous year’s and $149 million more than 2021’s budget. Police and fire are set to get the largest slice of the pie, as in years past, but another department will also see an influx of cash: transportation and public works.
Under the budget proposal, transportation and public works would see an $18 million increase compared to last year, a 25% change. That money will go toward beefing up the department’s staffing, which will jump from 472 to 492.
One of the most ambitious goals under the new transportation and public works budget is to respond to every street light repair request within 30 days. To accomplish this, the city manager is recommending $2.9 million go toward establishing seven new positions for street light services.
Another department seeing an increase in its budget is the Development Services Department. Under the new proposal, its budget would increase by nearly $10 million, a 49% change, largely because of the transfer of 18 employees from water, sewer and stormwater to the department.
While public safety spending (police and fire) represents 53% of the proposed budget, it doesn’t tell the full story of the Fort Worth Police Department’s financial situation. In addition to the $298 million Cooke recommends be spent on the department from the general fund, it will also receive a separate pool of money from the Crime Control and Prevention District Fund. That budget — totaling $117,387,173 — can be found here.
The general fund will pay for 54 sworn officers and 15 civilian positions.
The Fort Worth Fire Department would see an $18 million increase, or 10%, from last year’s budget. These funds would pay for 16 sworn firefighter positions and seven civilian positions, help cover overtime costs and physicals and purchase more gear.
The city has experienced a rash of resignations and retirements over the past two years, according to previous reporting. In an effort to stem the tide and attract new talent, the city manager has recommended an increase of $528,000 to the Human Resources Department’s budget. About $153,000 will go toward performance-based raises, and $109,000 will be used to hire someone to help with recruitment.
For general employees, performance raises are budgeted at 4%.
Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.