Neighborhood News

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2019 City Budget proposed, opportunities for public feedback

Posted Aug. 15, 2018 — The city manager recommended a $1.91 billion budget on Aug. 14 that continues to focus on sustainable solutions while also decreasing the property tax rate.

“For the third consecutive year, the city’s economic outlook is positive, from improvements in local job growth and sales tax collections to increases in residential and commercial values and new building permits,” City Manager David Cooke said. “Along with this growth have come increased demands on city services and infrastructure and, ultimately, the requests for city dollars.”

The recommended budget is an increase of 2.51 percent over the fiscal year 2018 adopted budget. The budget includes 82 net new positions.

The recommended budget includes these achievements:

  •  Lowers the property tax rate by two cents.
  • Increases cash funding dedicated to capital projects, including additional funds for street maintenance and repair, and funds to improve neighborhood vitality and safety, and additional funds for park maintenance and improvements.
  • Staffs new facilities approved by voters in the 2014 bond program: the Golden Triangle Library in far north, Fire Station 43 in far west and new parks.
  • Recommends a plan to make the city’s employee pension plan more sustainable. The recommended budget includes adding $10.2 million in the General Fund for the pension. That number represents 3 percent of the general fund payroll.
  • Adjusts the 2019 budget by $5.5 million for police budget fixes.
  • Emphasizes priority initiatives such as improving the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood, a disparity study for the Minority Business Enterprise program, implementing the Economic Development Strategic Plan and increased staffing the for Planning & Development Department.
  • Continues the practice of not using reserves to balance the budget.

 

Tax rate decrease proposed

Cooke recommended reducing Fort Worth’s property tax rate by 2 cents, from 80.5 cents per $100 valuation to 78.5 cents. The reduction is needed to help Fort Worth compete with other cities to attract new businesses.

The owner of a home valued at $221,800 with a homestead exemption would pay $1,393 in city property taxes.

One cent of the tax rate is worth about $6.2 million to the city’s budget, Cooke said.

 

Five-year capital plan in the works

Earlier, Cooke presented an outline for a five-year capital planning process aimed at replacing and improving aging infrastructure for one of the fastest-growing large cities in the nation. “It’s important to plan for both growth and the cost of growth,” Cooke said.

Fort Worth adds about 20,000 new residents each year, and population estimates call for Fort Worth to jump from No. 15 to No. 12 among U.S. cities over the coming years.

Cooke’s capital planning goals for the coming fiscal year include:

  • Implement the 2014 and 2018 bond programs that were approved by voters.
  • Increase funding for infrastructure maintenance and investment.
  • Continue improvements through the Neighborhood Improvement Strategy. That program is responsible for improvements to the Stop Six and Ash Crescent neighborhoods over the last two years.

 

Cooke sketched out a five-year plan that would add $1.74 billion in capital improvements through the fiscal year 2023 budget.

One addition to the capital planning process for the next five years is an effort to begin evaluating infrastructure maintenance and investment based on equity. This effort is in line with upcoming recommendations to be presented this fall by the city’s Race and Culture Task Force.

“We’re starting to use data about equity, and it will influence where and how our capital improvement dollars are spent,” Cooke said.

Give your feedback on the budget

Fort Worth residents have opportunities to comment on the proposed 2019 budget.

Budget hearings are scheduled for:

    Aug. 28, 7 p.m.

    Sept. 11, 7 p.m.

Hearings will be conducted during regular meetings of the City Council at City Hall, 200 Texas St.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on adopting the budget and the tax rate at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 at City Hall.

Residents can also email their feedback.

 

 

No increase in water, wastewater rates for 2019

Posted Aug. 15, 2018 — Despite a higher budget in fiscal year 2019, the recommendation to the Fort Worth City Council is to not increase water and wastewater rates next year, keeping the current rates in place.

The Water Department’s proposed budget is almost $5.6 million, or 1.2 percent, higher than the current budget.

The primary reasons for the higher FY2019 proposed budget are increases in personnel costs associated with operation and maintenance of a growing system, meeting new regulatory requirements and increasing the level of service to customers through enhancements to the utility’s call center; as well as increased investment in rehabilitation and replacement of existing assets.

In addition, there are increased funding levels associated with the city manager’s proposed staff pay-for-performance compensation plan, and increased health insurance and pension costs.

These increases are also partially offset by a reduction in debt service costs due to the retirement of old debt, and a reduction in the purchase of vehicles and equipment.

The city is able to avoid a retail rate increase because of projected increased revenues from other sources, including impact fees, taps and extensions attributable to system growth.

 

 

Fort Worth receives 'A+' from local small-business owners

Small-business owners gave Fort Worth an A+ this year, ranking first in a survey of business friendliness among 57 cities. That’s 5 percent better than last year, when it received an A-.

Fort Worth scored higher than Dallas (C+) and Austin (B+). On the state level, Texas ranked seventh and received an A.

Thumbtack, a website and app that finds local professionals for any project, conducted its 2018 Small Business Friendliness Survey, ranking all 50 states and 57 cities on factors like licensing requirements, tax regulations and labor and hiring regulations. With more than 7,500 small-business owners surveyed, it’s the largest continuous study of small-business perceptions of local government policy in the U.S.

“Small-business entrepreneurs are creating sustainable jobs, and policymakers must continue to empower this segment of the workforce,” said Lucas Puente, lead economist at Thumbtack. “It is critical for local, state and federal governments to support small-business owners as they adapt to rapid change and innovation in today’s economy.”

Thumbtack surveyed 7,629 skilled professionals from across the U.S. operating across hundreds of categories, including as electricians, music teachers, wedding planners and wellness professionals. The survey asked entrepreneurs about the policies of their states and cities toward small business, as well as the overall level of support in their community.

 

 

Smoking ban in city parks begins Aug. 15

Earlier this year, the City Council voted to expand the city’s smoking ban to include city parks. The expanded ban is in effect as of Aug. 15.

Smoking will still be allowed in outdoor areas of municipal golf courses and the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The Park & Recreation Department director will be allowed to create rules to permit smoking in designated areas of parks specifically for special events.

Late last year, the city prohibited smoking in bars and bingo parlors and retail smoke shops within 300 feet of schools, universities and hospitals.

August 15, 2018 — Here I am again. I survived the second phase of the terrible tooth work. I was in the chair for two hours again, with the dentist cutting and stitching. This is not fun and I don’t recommend it. I have a plastic plate in the roof of my mouth, which I have to wear for possibly three weeks and it’s the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

New Apartment Complex?

One issue I want to share with you, and would like feedback on, is regarding: Is there anyone reading this who would agree to an apartment complex being built on East Lancaster close to the 4D Stratton? I’m just asking because the Hilscher property was sold and that has been discussed. The Stratton is in receivership and nothing is being done to upgrade or repair that dump.

That is the apartment complex which West Meadowbrook has been trying to have demolished for more than a decade. The neighborhood feels that it is too far gone for rehabilitation.

It would cost more than demolishing it and starting from scratch. The owners were the group who stole from the Police Officers Association. They also own the 4D Lancaster across the street. It’s in somewhat better shape than the Stratton, but we have no idea when the court case will be settled.

City Pension Plan

One other issue the whole city is grappling with is how to make the pension plan for city employees solvent.

We must keep the promises made to the staff which keeps things working, including police officers and firemen. What is the answer to this puzzle? The City Manager and City Council have sounded off on the problem, but we haven’t heard much from voting citizens. Maybe it’s time for us to voice our opinions.

Local Restaurants

We have several new, small restaurants which seem to be doing well. We tried the Riverbend Café. The food matches any of the expensive restaurants. The Garden Market Bistro next to the Potter’s House on Woodhaven Boulevard is gathering steam as more and more of our East Fort Worth citizens are finding it. Good reviews on Lady and the Pit on Handley Drive and then we have our wonderful La Rueda still going strong. La Rueda recently expanded and has more room now, and a patio to enjoy  in nice weather. Try them and let us know what you think.

Later.

Wanda

New routes, fare schedule in effect for Trinity Metro Aug. 12

Posted July 27, 2018

New routes for Trinity Metro buses go into effect on Aug. 12.

Route 1: Increased frequency on weekends and later evening service seven days a week.

Route 20: Adjusted Sunday schedule to match Saturday schedule; weekend frequency reduced to 60 minutes. All Monday-Sunday time points changed.

Route 23: New route with weekend service to Richland Hills TRE station and Tarrant County College Northeast Campus.

Route 67X: New route with weekday service from Tarrant County College South Campus to Tarrant County College Southeast Campus.

Route 89: Adjusted Sunday schedule to match Saturday schedule.

 

Fares effective Aug. 12:

Bus, local: $2.

Bus, local reduced: $1.

Xpress Bus (route numbers ending with X): $2.50.

Xpress Bus, reduced: $1.25.

TRE, local: $2.50.

TRE, local reduced: $1.25.

Visit the Trinity Metro website for complete route and fare information.

 

Trinity Metro deploys digital bus stops at six transit centers

Digital signage at the East Side Transfer Center provides up-to-date arrival information for bus routes.

Trinity Metro’s Master Plan focuses on improving overall services and the customer experience. One of the steps in implementing the plan was installing Connectpoint digital bus stops at the busiest transit centers.

Solar-powered digital bus stops have been installed at these transit centers:

Hulen Mall Transfer Center.

La Gran Plaza Transfer Center.

Sierra Vista Transfer Center.

East Side Transfer Center.

North Transfer Center.

Ridgmar Mall Transfer Center.

 

Paul J Ballard, president and chief executive officer at Trinity Metro, said the new signage is an asset for riders. “Digital signage provides the opportunity to make timely changes that impact our customers. Utilizing solar power is an effective option and is in line with our environmentally friendly CNG bus fleet”.

New animal ordinances approved

Posted June 27, 2018

After more than a year of discussions and public input, the Fort Worth City Council approved a series of updated animal ordinances on June 26.

City staff periodically reviews the animal care and control ordinances to ensure compliance with associated rules and laws as well as relevant content for changing policies, development standards and cultural practices.

A partial list of revised ordinances includes microchipping, the “leash law” and intact-pet permits.

Microchipping

Microchipping will be the primary/recommended method for pet identification. Animals adopted or otherwise microchipped by the city are registered in a national database at no cost to the owner.

Pet owners who object to a microchip can get a collar-attached city license and pay a three-year ($100), five-year ($150) or life-of-pet fee ($200). The fee schedule is set to keep city expenses to a minimum (fewer renewals) while maximizing savings to the resident through a life-of-pet option.

Multifamily pet requirements

Landlords will now need to verify microchip, rabies vaccination and intact-pet status or permit. Before the updated ordinance, landlords only had to verify a current pet license.

Dangerous dogs

The new ordinance defines dangerous dogs as those that attack humans. This is consistent with state law. Dogs attacking animals are addressed as aggressive dogs.

Aggressive dogs

Dogs that attack other domestic animals are now recognized as aggressive dogs and are subject to a new criminal violation for known aggressive dog attacks. This is also consistent with state law.

Quarantine of animals

In the past, a veterinary practice is where a majority of quarantines occurred. The new ordinance allows for home quarantines as is consistent with state law.

“Pooper scooper law” — pet waste pickup

Previously, pet owners were only required to “scoop poop” on the owner’s property and parks. Now, pet owners have a responsibility to clean up pet waste in all public areas in addition to private property.

Intact-pet fees

This is a two-tiered ordinance.

• The intact-pet permit fee remains at $50.

•  If an intact dog is impounded at the shelter, and the owner does not want to spay/neuter their pet, they can pay $500 and apply for an intact-pet permit.

 The permit application must be approved.

“Leash law” aka under immediate control

Currently, dogs must be kept restrained, but no leash or specific control is required. The updated ordinance requires owners to have immediate control of a dog by a leash or through voice, gesture or other means. Exceptions include residential zones where a leash would be required and at special events and parks where agreements, administrative rules and other ordinances set requirements.

The revision requires dogs to be maintained under control so they are not a nuisance to others while allowing obedient dogs to safely accompany responsible owners at outdoor activities.

Retail sale of dogs and cats

The ordinance prohibits the retail sale of dogs and cats anywhere other than where the cat or dog was born (for example, at the home of the breeder). An exemption applies for nonprofit organizations, rescue groups or dog shows.

The ordinance encourages adopting dogs and cats rather than purchasing through pet stores and puppy mills.

To learn more, call 817-392-1234 or visit the animal page.

This is the same info, as a printable PDF.

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