FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth’s mayor says she’ll ask the city council to build a “back to basics” budget to put the city on a firmer financial path and help restore better, basic city services like roads, infrastructure, and public safety.
Roads are one of the most visible areas of need. Some neighborhoods are seeing construction projects started with bond money approved by voters a few years ago. But, other Fort Worth neighborhoods feel the effects of decaying roads every day.
“I hit four or five pot holes in a row right here and I had to pull over and restrap this dryer I’m delivering,” said Steve Bell, a south Fort Worth appliance dealer who was transporting a clothes dryer on the top of a flatbed trailer.
Nearby, homeowner J. D. Carson pointed to a cracked, sinking portion of road next to the driveway of his south Fort Worth home. He said it had been like that for three years despite an attempt by a work crew to fix it.
“They kind of patched it up a little bit,” Carson said. “They didn’t fix the problem. It started breaking up the same way.”
“In an older city there’s always decaying infrastructure,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
Budget planners told Mayor Betsy Price this week the city has seen steady, if flat, property tax returns and increased sales tax receipts, but not nearly enough to avoid another budget shortfall.
But the city’s infrastructure — streets, sidewalks, water — need more costly maintenance.
Price plans a straight forward approach to the problem: Slash budgets for anything not seen as a necessary city service and put that money where it’s more urgently needed.
“It means we have to set priorities and everything else will have to go,” Price said.
Price will ask council members next week to focus attention and money on the basics such as roads, police, fire, code, and libraries. The city will conduct a series of public hearings to help it establish which services are deemed as vital and which are ‘luxuries.’
She’ll also ask staff to look at public- private partnerships and privatization for programs not vital to city services.
“We simply have to,” Price said. “Citizens don’t want us taking any more of their tax dollars unless we’re delivering everything they need. We got to get back to living within our means.”
The mayor and city council will receive a full budget briefing during next Tuesday’s scheduled Pre-Council Meeting