Fort Worth, Texas – In a pivotal move on Tuesday, the Fort Worth city council, in a decisive 8-3 ballot, ratified the city’s tax rate for 2024, pegging it at 67.25 cents for every $100 of assessed value. This substantial decrease represents the most dramatic slash in the city’s tax rate since records dating back to 1990.
Fort Worth approves significant property tax rate cut, but property values surge
Despite this commendable reduction, it’s imperative to highlight that the relentless surge in property valuations significantly undermines the relief offered by the decreased rate. The conundrum faced by homeowners is further emphasized by the revelation that while the 2024 rate is a commendable 5.6% drop from its predecessor, property values have witnessed a sharp incline of approximately 12% over the past year alone. This data stems from a meticulous presentation rendered before the city council.
The dissenting voices in the council’s decision were those of council members Alan Blaylock, Michael Crain, and Charles Lauersdorf. Blaylock, in particular, ardently championed the “no-new revenue” tax rate—a proposal ensuring the revenue for 2024 would mirror the amounts accumulated from properties recorded in the 2023 tax rolls.
“It is my position that the rate of government spending, as proposed, is unsustainable for the long-term fiscal health of the city,” Blaylock said.
While he extolled the city’s strategic investments in public safety and infrastructure, he maintained that further efforts are imperative to drive the tax rate even lower.
To put the implications in perspective for the average homeowner: a property, post the homestead exemption and valued at $350,000, will incur a tax liability amounting to $1,883 payable to the city in 2024.
In a parallel vein, other prominent bodies within the jurisdiction, such as Tarrant County, the Fort Worth school district, Tarrant County College, and the John Peter Smith Hospital District, have all adopted rates aimed at reducing the fiscal burden on the average property owner. This move was precipitated by fervent appeals from numerous residents, who emphasized the need for the city of Fort Worth to follow suit, citing the ever-mounting property tax pressures bearing down on the city’s working-class families.
Fort Worth residents might not feel the benefit of the tax rate cut
In a poignant moment during the meeting, Wedgewood’s own Hollie Plemons gave voice to the anxieties of many Fort Worth citizens, highlighting the often stark disconnect between policy decisions and kitchen-table economics.
For the average resident, what truly matters is our capacity to manage the bills that land in our mailboxes, Plemons stated. Plemons voice imbued with the weight of lived experience. Illustrating the point further, Plemons shared a personal anecdote, revealing that her family continue to rely on aging vehicles, having been financially constrained from upgrading for years.
In Plemons view, the mere act of the council trimming the city’s property tax rate may not resonate with many residents, who grapple daily with tangible financial challenges.
In response to Plemons, council member Lauersdorf extended a semblance of understanding towards residents who juxtapose the city’s tax rate with those set by the county and school district. Yet, he astutely noted the city’s distinctive position, emphasizing its broader mandate in ensuring uninterrupted provision of essential daily services, which the populace has come to depend upon.
“If my house is burning down, I’m not calling the school district,” he said. Still he said the city could do more in future budget cycles to reduce property taxes.
Police and fire department can hire more than 200 employees with the new fiscal budget
In a bid to bolster its commitment to public safety, Fort Worth’s proposed budget delineates the introduction of over 106 additional personnel for the Police Department and another 76 for the Fire Department. Delving deeper into the proposed allocation for the Police Department, it emerges that a majority of these new positions are earmarked for the patrol division. Simultaneously, the city showcases its adaptive foresight, proposing staff augmentation for specialized units like crisis intervention teams and homeless services units.
Furthermore, Fort Worth is setting its sights on enhancing neighborhood welfare. An infusion of $4 million into the neighborhood improvement program is on the anvil. This program, a conduit for city funds, is meticulously crafted to bolster safety, upgrade roads, and spur economic development within pinpointed sectors of the city. Traditionally, Fort Worth channels these resources towards a single neighborhood annually. However, this amplified financial backing promises to expand its scope, encompassing two neighborhoods.
Throwing light on the broader metropolitan landscape, Valerie Colapret, the city’s spokesperson, told the Star-Telegram that Fort Worth’s rate reduction surpasses most of its contemporaries in the Dallas-Fort Worth expanse. A report originating from the city of Fort Worth underscores this claim, indicating that among the ten most populous cities in the DFW nexus, only McKinney has outpaced Fort Worth in the scale of its rate cut.
Mayor Mattie Parker of Fort Worth, amplifying the rationale behind such a rate, postulates that it’s a requisite instrument. This rate, she contends, is pivotal for navigating challenges related to public safety, infrastructural rehabilitation—particularly road repairs—and channeling investments towards pressing issues such as homelessness and the blight of illegal dumping.