Fort Worth’s development services department could add 40 new positions in fiscal year 2023, according to the proposed budget. 

The positions include transferring about $4.7 million for the salaries of 18 employees from the water, sewer and stormwater departments to development services.

The department’s budget would see a $10 million increase compared to last year, according to previous Fort Worth Report coverage. 

D.J. Harrell, development services director for the city of Fort Worth, said the transfer of the employees is part of a larger effort to transfer employees in other departments that work on development. The effort started in 2019 and 2020. At the time, development services were split across eight different departments. 

Employees at the water department transferred to development services because their duties were primarily in development. For example, some water engineers transferred — people who review infrastructure plans for water and sewer connections.

“Those folks came over,” Harrell said. “However, the home department was still paying for their salaries and all of the items that they needed in order to do their work.” 

The new staff will focus on customer service, Harrell said. The department is asking city council members to approve  $954,546 for 12 positions for the customer support team. He said the volume of building permits has increased 85% over the years, but staff has moved about 20%. 

“(We’re) just trying to one be fair with our staff to ensure that we’re not overloading them with this increased volume without giving them the resources to be successful, as well as you know, being fair with our customers,” Harrelll said. “We don’t control the volume that comes in, but we only can control how we react to it.” 

Bowie Holland, chair of the governmental affairs committee for The Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, said in a statement that many departments across the city are involved in the development process. 

He uses the example of the fire department, which looks at addressing and fire alarm and water meters and backflow preventer in the water department. A common concern Holland hears, he wrote, is that staffing needs to be adequate across all development functions regardless of department to see improvement. 

“For instance, say your project needs answers from departments A and B  to move forward,” Holland wrote. “Department A has adequate staff and gets you a timely answer, but Department B is understaffed juggling multiple priorities and can’t answer timely. You still need to hear from A and B so you are still stuck.”

Other than staffing, the development services department is requesting $200,000 for consulting services in zoning and subdivision ordinance infill development, according to past Fort Worth Report coverage.

The city’s economic development and development services departments work together. For larger projects like corporate relocations, economic development works with development services to make sure the available land has infrastructure needed to be competitive for a prospective company, said Robert Sturns, the city’s director of economic development, in a statement. The additions in the budget will help those broader efforts. 

“With every business, no matter its size – time is money,” Sturns said in a statement. “The support proposed for Development Services in the FY23 budget, if approved, would be incredibly helpful in making sure there’s bandwidth available to provide timely, hands-on customer assistance for business owners as they navigate this complex process, especially for a city that’s growing as quickly as ours.” 

 Additional staff proposals in development services department:

  •  $370,142 and three positions responsible for the city’s online permitting system called Accela.
  • $533,531 and four positions to create Development Services Misc. Project
  • $210,908 and two positions for preservation and design 
  • $207,166 and two positions for expansion of parkway inspection section 
  • $190,494 and two positions for senior construction inspectors to help with increased permitting activity
  • $184,183 and two positions to reduce high turnaround time of reviews caused by increased permitting activity 
  • $179,132 and two positions to expand urban forestry team 
  • $132,820 and one position to help with increased demand of design procurement agreements and construction plan reviews 
  • $125,903 and one position to help with GIS support 
  • $122,876 and one position to help support downtown planning 
  • $122,876 and one position to help promote equity in planning initiatives 
  • $113,778, and one position for department support 
  • $95,247 and one position to assist transportation impact fee team 
  • $89,566 and one position to help with zoning plans review 
  • $89,566 and one position to help with gas well inspections 
  • $105,454 and one position as development project coordinator 
  • $79,393 and one position as senior customer service representative. 

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

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Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....