The local municipal elections are almost here (Sat, May 5), and we haven’t been this excited since we last cleaned our dryer’s lint trap. Tarrant County’s biggest city, Fort Worth, isn’t holding city council elections this year, and some cities have no contested races.
Voters in most cities will have the opportunity to return or elect at least a few new city councilmembers or mayors. That’s good. Elected officials, like lint, need to be cleaned out sometimes. Still, excuse us if we can barely give a shit about whether Horace Riley or Guy Snodgrass wins the Place 2 alderman’s seat in Edgecliff fucking Village.
Information about the elections is available on the county website.
Not all of the elections are on the dull side. The Tarrant Regional Water District is asking voters to approve $250 million in bonds to pay for “flood control and drainage facilities.” Savvy voters know that most of that money is actually pegged for the Panther Island development just north of downtown Fort Worth. Hey, a $1.2 billion toy doesn’t pay for itself, people.
We’re not fans of the sneaky manner in which the water district shoved Panther Island into everyone’s faces (“Buddy, Can You Spare A Billion?” April 11). But that arrow has been released, and it makes sense to let it continue flying on its course so that water district officials can finish the project and allow all the new residential and retail to begin generating tax revenues. The 800-acre mixed-use development has been under construction slowly for more than a decade and isn’t expected to be completed for another 10 years at least.
Here’s a prediction: Many years from now, after all of the slyness and subterfuge from water district officials and city leaders are forgotten, Panther Island will be everyone’s favorite part of the city and come to represent Fort Worth in the way that the River Walk symbolizes San Antonio.
Fort Worth voters will decide whether they want to approve roughly $400 million in other bond projects: $260 million for improvements to streets and infrastructure, $84 million for parks and recreation, $10 million for public libraries, $12 million for fire safety, $13 million for animal care and shelter facilities, and $18 million for police facilities. We consider all of those areas extremely important for a thriving city. One of the propositions gives us pause, however.
Don’t get us wrong. Police officers are crucial to this city, and their facilities will always need upgrades. But voters have been approving the Crime Control and Prevention District since 1995, in effect taxing themselves extra money for 23 years to ensure we have a topnotch police force. The district’s approved budget for 2018 is about $80 million. Add that to the approximately $225 million already being spent on police from the general fund.
The money in the general budget pays for staff salaries and department overhead and infrastructure. The half-cent sales tax that funds the crime district pays for enhanced enforcement initiatives in neighborhoods and schools and during emergency events, along with additional equipment, technology, and training.
That’s all good stuff. But how much is enough? Seems like they could make do with that extra $80 million.