The new city budget, though anemic, manages to close a $59 million budget gap without raising taxes.
In a press release, the city tried hard to spin the budget cuts in a positive light, in the same way one might try to find the positive aspects of being stranded in frozen tundra.
It starts out with something that invariably draws universal “yippees:” no tax increases. The lights in the city's libraries will continue burning long into the evening, and other city services will remain well-supported as well.
The entire budget equals $1.2 billion -- a 2.1 percent increase from last year -- and also accomplishes the commendable feat of closing a $59 million budget gap in the process.
But the city couldn’t quite pull off a recession miracle. The budget reduces city employee positions to 183 and includes pay cuts in the form of furloughs for most of the remaining ones.
City Council members dutifully took some dents as well: they will lose 3 percent of their salaries, car allowances for executives will decrease by $40,000 and funding for Blackberries and cell phones will lose $50,000.
Mayor Mike Moncrief said it had been a "long and difficult process."
"But this council, our talented city staff and our residents worked together to find a balanced plan that focuses on safe communities and sustaining many of those essential services we depend on,” he said. “While these cuts don’t come without some obvious pain, this responsible and compassionate budget keeps Fort Worth on a positive course. Moreover, this City Council and I have also initiated a healthy discussion about the future fiscal policies of our city.”
Holly LaFon has written for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.