Budget Crunch Means Time Off, Closing Pools, Dumping Cell Phones

Fort Worth announces plan to cut spending.

The Fort Worth City Council got its first look at plans to slash $59 million from next year's budget.

City Manager Dale Fisseler presented a list of budget recommendations to reduce spending without raising taxes.

The blueprint includes the possibility of laying off 114 city workers in addition to adding employee furloughs that would translate to a 3 percent cut in pay.

City services that could be impacted include: MedStar service, some library services, social services and public pools.

In addition, the city would reduce the number of cell phones is has for employees and would cut back on new vehicle purchases. Both actions could save more than $1.5 million.

Here is the list of the proposed cutbacks:

Program/Operational Reductions: $16M
Suspend third allocation to Housing Trust Fund: $2M
Reduce Medstar subsidy back to FY08 level: $2M
Reduce maintenance of medians and eliminate maintenance of right-of-ways: $405,000
Close Wedgwood Branch and Meadowbrook Branch libraries: $813,194
Reduce funding to social services and arts nonprofits by 24 percent. Subsidies for grant funding provided to three agencies (The United Way of Tarrant County, the Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Convention and Visitor's Bureau), which would allocate funding to various nonprofit organizations: $779,000
Reduce street and traffic operations and maintenance: $763,628
Eliminate Parks and Community Services late night programs: $577,041
Reduce Code Compliance districts from seven to six: $466,320
Close all city pools except Forest Park for summer 2010: $444,961
Reduce Illegal Dumping Program: $351,000*
Close and evaluate future of Day Labor Center operations: $271,462
Reduce after school programs at all Community Centers: $188,522
Reduce Graffiti Abatement Program: $134,451
Close Animal Care and Control Center two days per week: $103,000
Eliminate summer youth track program and reduce adult sports programs: $47,645

Employee Furlough: $3.9M (represents a 3 percent cut in pay for general employees)**
Columbus Day, 10/12/09
Day before Thanksgiving Day, 11/25/09
Christmas Eve, 12/24/09
President's Day, 2/15/10
Good Friday, 4/2/10
Friday before Memorial Day, 5/28/10
Friday before Independence Day, 7/2/10
Friday before Labor Day, 9/3/10

Workforce Reductions: Roughly $10M
Reduce workforce by 230
114 filled and 74 vacant:
42 voluntary retirements (city to offer $10,000 incentive for eligible retirees)

Employee Benefits:
Earmark an increased annual contribution to Employees' Retirement Fund of 2 percent ($5.4M), but refrain from disbursing the additional funds until a committee can submit proposal to change retirement benefits for new hires (possibly summer of 2010).
Contribute an additional $5M to the long term liability of Retiree Healthcare Plan and eliminate city-paid benefits to those eligible to retire after FY2020.
Establish Employee Health Clinic and Fitness Facility on a pilot basis: $1M
Eliminate tuition reimbursement: $258,000
Increase employee group health insurance premiums by 12 percent, or an average of 1 percent of employee pay, and eliminate Select Plan from Health Benefits Plan.

Reorganize/Outsource Programs
Outsourcing/Privatization: Cost saving unknown at this time
Equipment Services Division: Evaluation/Request for Proposals during FY10 with target to outsource some services by October 2010.
Information Technology Services: Evaluation/Request for Proposals during FY10 with target to outsource some city-wide services by October 2010.
The Herd: Request for proposal to transfer to the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Other possibilities: portions of Aviation, Reprographics, City Cable
Organizational Transfers: $3.1M
Public Events Department > Culture and Tourism Fund: $2.6M
Capital Projects > Capital Projects Service Fund: $576,000
Reprographics and City Cable > Community Relations Department
Emergency Management Office > Fire Department
Sunset Review > Organizational Analysis Unit
Directions Home Program > Housing and Economic Development Department
Aviation Department > Infrastructure Services

Increase Revenues
General Fund Fee Increases: $13M
Lift the $3.2M cap on mineral ad valorem tax revenue: $6.7M (a portion of which will be used to maintain funding for the Directions Home 10 year homelessness plan)
Assess payment in lieu of taxes for water and sewer properties: $4.2M
Municipal Court contract for collection of over-due fines: $1.5M
Increase various fees related to Parks, Code Compliance, Library, Planning and Development, and other services: $1M

Non-General Fund Fee Increases: $9M
Water Bill changes beginning January 1, 2010 (for typical residential user): up $2.85 per month.
Water fee up 50 cents
Wastewater fee up 60 cents
Sanitation fee up 75 cents*
Stormwater fee up $1
Water bill late fee: An additional fee totaling 5 percent of the bill will be added to those delinquent payments (23 days or more after issuance of bill).
Non-residential stormwater fees will increase an average 27 percent.

Other Cost Savings
Reduce vehicle purchases by half: $1.5M
Reduce uniform spending for non-civil service employees: $430,000
Reduce number of city-paid cell phones/blackberries: $50,000
Reduce car allowance for executives: $40,000

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