City's spending plan nearly excludes public transit

By Katie Coleman

Six of the eight speakers who have appeared before the Fort Worth City Council to discuss the city’s proposed 2017 budget had one request: more public transportation.
The only problem with the request is that public transportation isn’t part of the city’s general fund, or day-to-day operations.
The city manager’s $639 million spending plan sets aside $33 million for “Transportation and Public Works,” which is a 32 percent cut from last year. But City Manager David Cooke said Fort Worth Transit doesn’t use money from that department.
“Transit ain’t getting cut at all,” Cooke said. “They don’t really get any money from the city anyway.”
Cooke said money for Fort Worth Transit comes from a half-cent sales tax.
“So if that half cent sales tax grows, which it is, that’s the money that they get to use to do TEX rail, TRE, and all the buses that operate in Fort Worth,” Cooke said. “So they’re not getting cut, and that revenue stream is growing.”
Cooke said some of the money that was cut from the Transportation and Public Works department will be going to the Capital Project Fund.
“It’s capital money which means we’re going to use it to build stuff and fix stuff,” Cooke said. “So we’re gonna appropriate it directly to the capital project budget as opposed to showing it in [Transportation and Public Works] and then transferring it to the capital project fund.”
Cooke said the capital project fund can be used on public transit.
Michael Bennett, representative of the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, said better transportation is crucial to the city’s economic development.
“As we in the real estate council look at the future of our city and as we look at where we’re headed we’re worried that we’re gonna be gridlocked and we’re worried that that’s going to take us off that wonderful upward climb that we have,” Bennett said.
The final budget will be considered by City Council Sept. 13.