Fort Worth officials discuss 2021 budget, maintain focus on capital projects

The city of Fort Worth is expected to retain its current property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
The city of Fort Worth is expected to retain its current property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Fort Worth is expected to retain its current property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite economic turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, the city of Fort Worth is expected to retain its current property tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21, which begins Oct. 1.

The city’s current rate of $0.7475 per $100 assessed valuation will allow the city to provide operational services and continue its current rate of capital investment, according to City Manager David Cooke.

“Think about our impact on the community,” Cooke told council members at an Aug. 4 meeting. “We are spending $300 million-$400 million in capital every year. That’s a significant amount of money. The positive piece is we’re keeping our emphasis on infrastructure investment and the maintenance of that infrastructure.”

Part of the city’s upcoming capital investment includes more than $390 million for general projects at city airports and convention centers as well as water and stormwater improvements, Cooke said.

The city will also invest more than $48 million on street, traffic light and sidewalk maintenance to improve city transit access.


“Capital projects already underway include the Golden Triangle Library, two fire stations ... the north side animal shelter and some new parks and trails,” Cooke said.

According to Cooke, the city has already committed $124 million to capital projects out of $399.5 million that voters approved as part of the 2018 bond program.

For FY 2020-21, the city is anticipating a 3% increase in property tax revenue to $556.8 million, Cooke said. Of the city tax rate, $0.595 of every dollar is used for operations and maintenance costs, and the remaining $0.1525 is used for debt service.

“Property tax revenue is projected to remain flat for a couple years, or even decline,” Cooke said. “Sales tax and other revenues should increase ... [by] about 4%.”

Fort Worth City Council adopted a $771.9 million budget for FY 2019-20 but was forced to cut $23 million in expenditures due to declining revenues.

The city budget, which is 80% funded by property and sales taxes, includes general fund, debt service, water, wastewater utility, special projects and other expenditures. In 2020, city officials adopted a budget of more than $1.9 billion.

The city will hold public hearings on the proposed tax rate Sept. 1 and 15. Council is expected to approve the FY 2020-21 tax rate and city capital and operations budgets at a Sept. 22 meeting.