By BJ Austin, KERA Reporter
Dallas, TX – Water bills in Fort Worth are going up, but the tax rate stays the same in the new city budget that also eliminates jobs and departments.
The budget contains job cuts, with 150 positions eliminated. All but three of those employees have been offered new jobs. Hours at libraries also are being cut back. The city's housing department is now part of Economic Development and the Fort Worth public health department is no more. Some services have been moved to Tarrant County. That worries City Councilmember Kathleen Hicks.
"We now are the largest city in Texas without a public health department," Hicks said. "While we'll be relying on Tarrant County and other entities to help, I think we have a health care crisis in our city and state and country. And that concerns me."
Hicks says annual city-sponsored health fairs in the African American and Hispanic communities have been the only opportunity for many to get any sort of healthcare.
The City Manager predicts four more tough budgets to adjust for spending outpacing population growth, some bookkeeping problems and the economic downturn.