The city of Fort Worth doesn’t have any plans to reduce your taxes, ever.  This was verbalized by the city manager, David Cooke, during the January 30th, 2018 City Council work session.  The council was discussing the upcoming bond election of approximately $399 Million.  The questions asked of David Cooke from Councilman Brian Byrd were this:
“When we choose, the size of the bond package, we are committing ourselves to a certain percentage of our revenue going towards debt service for an extended period of time.  How do we choose that percentage?  How do we know that’s healthy, and are we assuming continued growth?  What happens when we don’t have that continued growth?”
David Cooke responded in a very open manner.  He went on to explain how they choose the size of the bonds, and how much money should be put towards infrastructure.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t believe enough money was being used towards infrastructure.  He stated that “Once you sell a bond, you’re paying that debt for up to twenty years.”  Then he proceeded to talk about future projections of growth, specifically to the tax base, and this is where everyone should start to pay close attention.
In reference to the assumed growth question from Councilman Byrd, David Cooke said the following.  “The assumptions that we use in future projections, on how fast will the tax base grow, is the key variable.  We are using a 4% go forward projection.  So when we exceed 4%, that’s always good!  When we don’t, exceed 4%, then that’s why one of the other reasons for keeping a little capacity there.  I am not even going to bring up the Governor’s proposal that would cap, truly cap, the property tax revenue to 2.5, then we are redoing our debt models.”
Did you catch what he said?  The city manager for Fort Worth just admitted that they use a minimum of a 4% increase in property tax revenue each year for their debt payment projections.  They know going into each budget cycle that they will have a 4% growth in revenue to play with. David Cooke also mentioned Governor Abbott’s new tax relief proposal in which there would be a 2.5% property tax growth cap.  I’ll explain in a moment why David is wrong, or misleading the Council, about that cap.  He sees even a reduction of revenue growth to 2.5% as negatively impacting the city.  He specifically said “[if Abbott’s proposal took effect] we are redoing our debt models.”  This means they do not have an intention on ever reducing the taxes we pay, only increasing by 4% minimum.
Briefly, I will explain that David Cooke doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand Governor Abbott’s property tax plan.  If he did, he would realize that the cap is only for the existing tax base and new growth isn’t included in the cap.  The city could raise taxes by 2.5% to the existing home and business owners, and still receive a revenue increase, greater than 2.5%, when you add new properties to the tax roll.
It is very evident that we, as citizens and taxpayers, cannot sit by and wait for our local governments to reduce our taxes.  We cannot even wait for them to stop increasing taxes, much less reduce them.  This is why it is vital for property tax reform legislation to pass this next legislative session.
You can watch the video of David Cooke referenced in this article below:

Matthew Spano

Matthew Spano, a Texas Torchbearer, is a small business owner and political activist from Fort Worth. He is married to his wife, Kristina, they have two children.