As the city of Fort Worth wraps up its budgeting process over the coming weeks, we asked residents to submit any and all questions about the city’s upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget.
The Fort Worth Report has written extensively about the upcoming budget, but engaging with Fort Worth and Tarrant County residents is the foundation of our mission. We want to make sure that our coverage addresses the things that are most important to you.
Of course, Fort Worth residents delivered by submitting thoughtful, in-depth questions. We pulled some of the best ones to answer publicly, and answered them in two articles. If these questions spark others, feel free to submit yours here. We want to allow readers’ input to continue to shape our coverage.
And if you’re still hungry for more information, read more about the budget here.
How does the city budget provide economic development incentives
Rusty Fuller asked about how “economic development incentives paid to certain developments are reflected in the City Budget.”
The city has a fund set aside for its economic development incentives, Clay Pearson, interim chief transformation officer, said. In 2024, the budget for that fund, which falls under the economic development department, will more than double to $5 million annually.
The city also will increase its budget by $300,000 to fund the city’s Chapter 380 agreements, an economic development tool that allows the city to provide incentives to companies. It also ensures certain guidelines are met for a project to be eligible for tax abatements and requires cities to register those agreements with the state.
Fort Worth currently has 42 agreements registered. Some other 380 agreements, including one associated with the Autobahn luxury car dealerships at the Clearfork development, are still being finalized.
The incentives the city provides don’t impact the city’s tax roll, and companies receive a tax rebate if they meet performance standards. Fuller is generally happy with the 2024 budget, he said.
“This budget reflects the need to reduce the impact of increasing property values while providing the needs and services for a growing city,” Fuller said.
How are my taxes paying for the future city hall?
Peggy Douglas criticized the amount that the city is spending to fund the renovation and construction of a new city hall at the former Pier 1 tower at 100 Energy Way. The building is $50 million larger than its original projected budget.
You won’t find any direct expenditures related to the construction of New City Hall in this year’s budget, Pearson said. The council approved both the initial funding for the project and cost overruns during budget cycles in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
The project is funded by a mix of sources including:
- $155 million in tax notes (a form of short-term debt)
- $15 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act
- $8.5 million in funds from cable companies to establish a public television channel
- And $2 million in general fund operational costs
Funding for the future city hall comes from the city’s property management department. The department’s budget will increase in 2024 by about $3.13 million for maintenance and utility costs for the future city hall.
How will the city help me after a large flood causes damage to my home or property?
Flooding is a particular concern to another Fort Worth resident. They ask how the city budgets to respond to a massive flood and support residents with costs of living and repairs after a flood destroys property.
Several of the city’s departments jump into action when there is severe flooding, including fire, police and an emergency response center dedicated to keeping city services online in emergency situations and possibly provide shelter, if necessary.
“The emergency response is coordinated centrally by the city but (it includes) everybody that’s necessary and available, they will be responding wherever they’re needed,” Pearson said.
If the cost of flood damage reaches a certain threshold, the city can apply for and receive relief from the federal government to reimburse the money they spend in the aftermath of the flood.
The city also is planning to invest more to prevent massive flooding by increasing its stormwater fees by 15%. The average single family homeowner will see their bill increase by about $10 annually. The fee increase will pay for better maintenance of existing flood infrastructure and progress on major flood mitigation infrastructure, including improvements to the Lebow Channel in Fort Worth’s Northside.
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.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.