A Fort Worth city councilman stated he will be voting against the city’s proposed 2019-2020 budget that would raise the city’s average property tax bill for homeowners nearly 5 percent from a year ago.

Although at first glance the proposed tax hike of 5 percent may not seem overly burdensome, it comes after years of steady increases. According to the Tarrant Appraisal District, the proposed tax rate would result in a 42.8 percent increase in the average tax bill paid by local homeowners when compared to just six years ago—from $835 to $1,193.

“This budget does not represent the good stewardship that [the] Fort Worth mayor and council have practiced over the past few years,” Moon wrote in a statement to Texas Scorecard. “This budget includes a property tax increase, a water utility fee increase, and a storm water fee increase … Fort Worth has done better.”

Moon applauded the city for uncovering “millions in lost revenue and wasteful spending” that resulted from internal audits. “Fort Worth can be proud of these positive steps,” Moon told Texas Scorecard, “but should not take a step backwards.”

District 3 Councilman Brian Byrd, in a response to a request for a statement by Texas Scorecard, stated he’s “not ready to say no or yes” on the tax increase. “But it is more [of a] tax increase than I’d like to see.”

“Baked into the budget are the pension solution, which is very expensive, and the legislature’s bills that cut $8 [million] of revenue,” Byrd wrote, in reference to the Texas Legislature’s ending cable fees and the highly unpopular red-light camera ticketing system. “[I’m] not saying the [legislature] shouldn’t have eliminated those. I am saying it was a significant loss of revenue for us to make up.”

Moon, however, points out other city spending that taxpayers should be concerned about. Moon believes taxpayer anger “is justified in how economic development dollars are to be offered to fund high-rise apartments.”

Additionally, Moon noted the creation of a “Police Monitor” whose job is to form a Civilian Police Review board, with a salary of $180,000 with $70,000 in benefits. “Yet we as a mayor and council have not yet voted ‘for or against’ a Civilian Review Board of our Police.”

Texas Scorecard reached out to Mayor Price and city council members requesting comment on Moon’s position and whether or not each of them will be voting for the tax increase. No statement was received in time for publication.

Taxpayers still have time to express their opinion to Mayor Price and city councilmembers. A public hearing will be on September 10, and council will meet to vote on September 17.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.