The average price of a home in Fort Worth rose to $355,000 in July, a 17.9% increase compared with July 2021. As home values rise, a patchwork of property tax rates will determine residents’ tax bills.

While every taxing entity lowered or maintained their rates set in 2022, residents are likely to see higher tax bills in 2023. 

“The higher the value, the higher the taxes you’re typically likely to pay,” Chance Williams, vice president at Southland Property Tax Consultants, said. “Rising values usually allow taxing entities some leeway to lower tax rates.” 

The Tarrant Appraisal District reported 14.6% growth in taxable property value, mostly created by increased appraisals on existing property.

Tax rates are made up of two parts, onefor operations and maintenance and a second for debt service. The operations and maintenance rate typically makes up the bulk of the tax rate. Once the tax rate is finally approved along with the budget, it will be in place until the next fiscal year. 

What is a fiscal year?

 A fiscal year is a one-year period that taxing entities use for financial reporting and budgeting. Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s fiscal year starts Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30.

Most Fort Worth residents pay taxes to a series of entities, including the city of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the Tarrant Regional Water District, the Tarrant County Hospital District (JPS Health Network), Tarrant County College and Fort Worth ISD.

Every taxing entity is required to produce a no-new-revenue rate, which is the rate that would produce the same amount of income if applied to the same properties taxed in both years, and a voter-approved tax rate, which is the maximum rate allowed by law without voter approval. Then, the entity determines its suggested tax rate. 

All of these jurisdictions determine their own tax rate, and those tax rates culminate into a final tax bill residents receive in October.  

The bulk of property owners’ tax bills is paid to Fort Worth ISD. You may read more about the school district’s budget, and how it will affect your tax bill here

Fort Worth: 

Fort Worth’s proposed 2023 budget totals nearly $2.3 billion — an 11.87% growth from last year. 

The city’s proposed tax rate is $0.7125 per $100 of assessed evaluation. The proposed tax rate could change; the Fort Worth City Council will vote to approve the final tax rate Sept. 27. 

Fort Worth’s average net taxable value of a single-family residential property is $199,169. That homeowner would pay about $1,419 in taxes to the city, not taking  exemptions into account. 

Fort Worth will collect about 11% more from property taxes this year compared with last, the biggest increase compared to other local taxing entities. New property will contribute about $19.5 million to the city’s property tax income. 

Growth accounted for a large portion of additional income, City Manager David Cook said. Taxable property values in Fort Worth increased by about $12.7 billion between 2022 and 2023. 

“The biggest increase, nearly $10 billion, is from growth in existing values,” Cook said. 

The city’s tax rate is split into $0.565 per $100 valuation for maintenance and operations and $0.1475 per $100 valuation for debt service — which pays off the city’s debt obligations. The debt service rate is expected to yield approximately $137 million, allowing the repayment of all current and proposed debt obligations.

 The city shaved 2.5 cents off of its operations budget, which finances departments like parks and recreation, code compliance, fire and police. Fort Worth moved money around its operations and maintenance budget to achieve the half-cent tax rate decrease.

“The entire reduction in the tax rate is coming off operations,” Cook said. 

The remaining half cent will be moved to the city’s pay-as-you-go budget, which serves as funding for capital projects like roads and street lights. 

What is PAYGO:

Pay As You Go, or PAYGO, is the city of Fort Worth’s general fund cash pool used for some operations and capital programs. 

Tarrant County 

Tarrant County’s tax rate is influenced by the same factors as Fort Worth. The county initially proposed a 2023 tax rate equal to its 2022 tax rate — $0.229 per $100 valuation. The county commissioners court asked that county staff work to reduce the tax rate by a half cent. 

The new tax rate, $0.224, will be achieved by reducing the budget by $11 million. The money will be pulled from the county’s renovations fund, and some capital projects in county-owned buildings will be put on hold until next year’s budget.

The county grappled with a series of staffing issues that forced them to shape the budget around personnel. Overcrowding in Tarrant County jails and backlogs in county courts necessitated an increase in funding for new positions. 

“We need to make sure that we have taken all of those costs and initiatives that may be put into place into consideration,” Helen Geise, director of budget and risk management for Tarrant County, said. “We knew that we could reduce the tax rate after doing all of that, and that’s how we came up with a half cent reduction.”

The proposed tax rate would raise about $50 million more from property taxes in 2023 compared with last year. About $10 million would be raised from new property. 

Residents who own property with Fort Worth’s average residential taxable value of $199,169 would pay about $446 in taxes to the county, not including possible exemptions. 

The Tarrant County Commissioners Court has until Sept. 13 to vote on the budget and the proposed tax rate. The commissioners court also approves the budget and tax rate for the Tarrant County Hospital District, or JPS Health Network. 

Typically, the hospital district’s tax rate is similar to the county’s, hovering around $0.2 per $100 valuation. The tax income funds capital projects and operating expenses for the hospital system. 

JPS set its proposed 2023 tax rate at 0.224, the same rate as 2022. Residents who own property with Fort Worth’s average residential taxable value of $199,169 would pay about $446 in taxes to the hospital district, not taking into account exemptions. 

Tarrant Regional Water District 

Tarrant Regional Water District makes up the smallest portion of residents’ overall tax rate. The water district uses income from property taxes exclusively for flood control. 

The water district proposed a reduced tax rate of 0.0269. Still, the water district expects to collect an additional $2.5 million in property taxes in 2023. The money will primarily be used to maintain existing flood mitigation infrastructure, like levies and reservoirs. 

“We saw that there would be an opportunity to reduce that tax rate and still provide those services to the public,” said Dan Buhman, Tarrant Regional Water District’s general manager. 

The water district’s tax rate was impacted by increases in input costs, like materials and labor, Buhman said. 

“We’re very sensitive to labor costs,” Buhman said. “It’s a big part of what we do because it’s people out in the field maintaining infrastructure, and that has been an incredibly uncertain market lately.” 

Residents who own property with Fort Worth’s average residential taxable value of $199,169 would pay about $53 in taxes to the city, not taking into account exemptions. 

These taxing entities, along with Tarrant County Community College and Fort Worth ISD, will vote to approve their proposed tax rates throughout the month of September. The Fort Worth Report will cover proposed 2023 budgets closely throughout the month. 

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org 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.

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Rachel Behrndt

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org