Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief declared the state of the city is strong and "hotter than a habanero" pepper in his annual State of the City address.
Moncrief said, from an economic standpoint, the city wrestled with balancing one of the toughest budgets in recent history.
Despite tough economic times nationally, Forbes Magazine named Fort Worth among the Top Five "Best Cities for Jobs." Moncrief credits the Barnett Shale as representing "an enormous advantage for our local economy."
Looking ahead, Moncrief said Fort Worth's priorities in 2009 include continuing to protect neighborhoods, ending chronic homlessness, fueling our economy and improving mobility.
"Overall, crime rates in 2008 were down 4.8 percent from the previous year and Fort Worth saw its lowest number of homicide in 40 years," said Moncrief.
Moncrief said chronic homelessness is costing the taxpayers $30 million a year. "Its expensive to pay for care in the emergency room, or send an ambulance and dispatch a fire truck every time 911 is dialed from a shelter," said Moncrief. He reported the city has a plan and a road map to address housing, health care and employment for the homeless.
The Mayor also talked about the future of transportation in North Texas which he called "the 800-pound gorilla." Moncrief said the future is in rail mass transit. He encouraged the public to visit his Web page to learn about Rail North Texas.
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"We have identified more than 250 miles of additional rail lines that could serve seven different counties in North Texas," said Moncrief. But Moncrief admitted it will be expensive to build, with a price between $5 billion and $9 billion when it all said and done.