Budget Woes Bring Tears

2
Posted August 12, 2009 by Jeff Prince in Blotch

Interning journalist Sarah Perry wrote this blog post:

Most folks knew budget cutting was going to be brutal in Fort Worth, but when the city council got the proposed financial game plan on Tuesday evening, the realities in it were painful for many.

City Manager Dale Fisseler choked up as he presented the steep proposed cuts, which include cutting 200 jobs, closing libraries and pools, reducing arts funding, and leaving a lot more potholes unfilled.

Her colleague Carter Burdette suggested that the real problem was that not enough balancing — and painful cutting — had been done in past years. He said city leaders have been “overindulgent” in the past and now must pay the price. “We’ve got to have the backbone to say some things are not possible,” he said.

At least one group, however, had reason to leave the session smiling. Homeless folks and their advocates heard that the city’s ambitious, year-old plan to attack homelessness could be saved from a threatened 30 percent cut in funding. Fisseler proposed that the council divert about half of its increased tax income from Barnett Shale drilling for the 2009-2010 fiscal year to help cover the overall budget shortfall — including $1 million that would go to Directions Home, as the homeless project is called.

Fisseler’s suggestion is that $6.7 million in mineral tax dollars be redirected to the city’s general fund, rather than going into a trust fund for future projects, as the council had planned.

Other proposed budget cuts, and the funds that would be saved include:
– Closing the Wedgewood and Meadowbrook branch libraries, $813,194;
– Eliminating late-night programs for youths at community centers, $577,041;
– Reducing after school programs at community centers, $188,522;
– Closing all city pools except Forest Park, $444,961;
– Closing the Day Labor Center, $271,462;
– Increasing employee health care premiums by 12 percent ;
– Raising residential water bills by an average of about $3 a month.

Council member Kathleen Hicks was clearly unhappy. “We are balancing this budget on the backs of the working poor,” she said.

When Fisseler began to show emotion, Mayor Mike Moncrief acknowledged that there’s reason for folks to be upset. “Numbers are easy to deal with, but each number has a face, a life, and a family,” he said.

Four public hearings will be held over the next month, so citizens can weigh in on the proposals. The council is due to adopt the budget Sept 15.


2 Comments


  1.  

    What happened? I thought the Barnett Shale was going to make everyone rich and leave everyone in Cowtown rolling in FREE MONEY.




  2.  
    Martin

    Exactly, and by balancing the budget on the backs of the WORKING POOR through closure of libraries and other programs listed, like halting after school programs, and LATE NIGHT programs at community centers the City will have to do a HUGE GIVE BACK in the form of Police Officer overtime pay because by cutting these programs there is a resulting increase in both felons, and victims in neighborhood’s with all of the other surrounding economic, and societal cost’s because these kids have no place to go, no outlet for their energy. Until, those in charge get smart about which items to place on the chopping block during these down turns, then these people are going to get exactly what they’ve always gotten!

    Maybe we need a Municipal Income tax for those who earn $250,001 GROSS INCOME or more, after all they CAN afford to pay it. What’s the big deal they can’t buy the NEW $350,000 motor-home this year?

    It is time to look at these budget issues from the other end of the economic scope.





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