Budget hearings in place for citizens’ comments

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Fort Worth residents have three opportunities to speak out on the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget that City Manager Tom Higgins presented to the City Council last week.

Budget hearings are scheduled for:

Aug. 20, 10 a.m.

Sept. 10, 7 p.m.

Sept. 17, 10 a.m.

All hearings will be conducted during regular meetings of the City Council at City Hall, 1000 Throckmorton St.

The proposed $1.4 billion budget focuses on sustainable solutions to current challenges with no increase to the property tax rate. The proposal closes a General Fund shortfall that was predicted to be as high as $50 million early in the process.

City Council has scheduled several work sessions and three public hearings before Sept. 17, when the final budget document is scheduled to be adopted.

While the local economy continues to improve with rising property values and sales tax receipts, the city still faces challenges in addressing long-term liabilities and aligning revenues and expenditures. Over the last few years, City Council has committed more of the property tax to infrastructure needs while driving down operating costs. Council has also continued to responsibly address long-term commitments to employees, including pension and retiree healthcare. All of this has occurred while Fort Worth has continued to grow, along with the demand for services such as streets, parks and public safety.

This budget and anticipated adjustments throughout 2014 will align revenues and expenditures. The city will use available excess fund balances to mitigate significant service disruptions and to maintain core and critical services. City staff has also identified sustainable reductions while minimizing employee layoffs and targeting vacant positions.