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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Fort Worth suburb isn’t furloughing employees, but there is a property tax hike

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BY ELIZABETH CAMPBELL SEPTEMBER 16, 2020 06:43 PM – Fort Worth Star Telegram

Kennedale council members decided to increase the property tax rate despite protests that residents are having a tough time paying bills because of the pandemic.

The council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to increase the property tax rate from 73 cents to 77 cents per $100 of assessed value starting Oct. 1.

Joe Palmer, who owns a business in Kennedale, spoke against increasing the tax rate.

“How are you benefiting people by increasing the tax rate by 7 percent?” he said. “You need to think about the people in your city. How are they going to pay bills?”

Lakeita Sutton, the city’s director of finance and IT, said in an interview that the property tax rate increase will help Kennedale regain funds that were lost when the council voted to lower the tax rate in 2018.

Sutton said the city is shoring up its reserve fund, which is used during emergencies for day-to-day expenses. The fund balance fell below the recommended 15 to 25 percent amount, and the current budget puts it at 8.3 percent, she said.

“We know it’s (the fund balance) not sufficient,” she said. “We are making every effort to have a better outcome.”

Sutton said that the goal is to keep from having a negative rating with the bond agencies.

“Our hope is that the rating agencies will see the effort we are making,” she said.

The council also voted unanimously to approve a total budget of $19.7 million that includes an operating budget of $7.6 million.

Previously, there were discussions on furloughing employees and outsourcing ambulance service, but the council and city manager found other places to cut costs.

Managing the senior citizens programs will shift to the library, and the city will end its contract with Sixty and Better.

Kennedale will also cut back on building maintenance and will purchase two breathing apparatuses for the fire department instead of four the fire chief requested.

There were also cuts in travel and training for city employees.

There were suggestions to cut a position for a new police officer, but it was left in the budget.

Read more like this in the Star Telegram @ https://www.star-telegram.com/

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