Fort Worth Budget Woes Growing

2011 budget gap $32 million worse than anticipated

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
    Fort Worth faces a shortfall $32 million greater than expected.

    More cuts will be coming to Fort Worth as the city wrestles with an even bigger budget gap for 2011 than originally anticipated.

    At a briefing Tuesday, the council learned spending will outpace revenue by $77 million -- $32 million more than was once projected.

    The City Council made tough choices in an effort to close a budget gap in the 2010 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. Pools are closed for the summer, and employees were forced to take furlough days resulting in a 3 percent pay reduction.

    Three hypothetical scenarios are on the table as possible ways to reach a balanced budget by September.

    One scenario would include a 3 percent cut to police and fire budgets, 6 percent cuts to all other departments and a property tax increase.

    Another features the same departmental cuts, but rather than a property tax increase, revenue would be added to the budget from several one-time revenue streams which are not sustainable year-to-year.

    A third scenario features no additional revenue in the budget. Instead, more severe cuts in service would be made, including 5 percent cuts to police and fire budgets and 10 percent cuts to all other city departments.

    "We need to put ourselves five years from now ,where we would like to provide the services and work our way backwards," said Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief. "Whether that be by increasing revenues, decreasing services or a combination of both -- which I think both will be required -- but that is the way you solve a problem."

    The budget gap is basically the result of two things. Costs continue increasing because more people are moving to Fort Worth, while revenues from sales tax and property taxes are declining as a result of the economic climate.

    If the city were to stay on its current path, the budget gap would grow to $136 million by 2015, according to the city budget office, so any cuts made this year will probably not be the last.