• Lancaster Lofts – Open Studios for Creative People
  • Exterior – Front
  • Gorgeous northern exposure
  • Sleeping area
  • Loft Kitchen
  • Spacious bathroom
  • Loft interior
  • Open Studios for Creative People
  • Gated Access
  • Exterior – Rear

What’s Important This Month

Posted by Flora Alexandra No Commented Monday, September 2nd, 2013

This is budget time for many organizations – the time that values are put into dollars and cents.  The City of Fort Worth is conducting council meetings and public listening sessions to make good decisions on how to spend $1.4 billion or more or less.  http://fortworthtexas.gov/budget/fy2014/  And there are troubling things in the budget proposal. 

Public Safety

  • Reduction of projected vacancies in Police (46):  There are always unfilled positions in every department at any point in time.  It’s called turnover.  The City Manager is recommending that we short stop that normal turnover and in so doing, reduce our police force without having to fire anybody.  I attended a meeting recently with the Central Division Captain regarding crime on E. Lancaster.  Crime is up 8% throughout the city and (only) 6% in Central Division.  We are seeing a significant increase in crime in the Race Street corridor including speeding (we had a recent pedestrian fatality), illegal gambling, gang activity including aggravated assault. There was a terrible pedestrian accident last week in front of Lancaster Lofts in spite of all the new lighting and speed monitoring devices.  Both the 2013 survey of homeless persons and the recent study of homeless women’s victimization on E. Lancaster noted that about half of homeless persons experienced physical assault or rape in the last 12 months.  The FW police force is staffed at 20.2 officers per 10,000 citizens.  Average ratios for cities over 100,000 are 25 per 10,000.  Other examples, at 65.56 per 10,000 residents, Washington’s police force is nearly half again as large on a per-capita basis as Chicago’s (44.17), Philadelphia’s (43.21) and New York City’s (41.77).  While police staffing should not be based on ratios alone, our rising crime rate, including violent crime, is cause for concern.  I work closely with the Neightborhood Patrol Officer in the Near East Side and have learned that pro-active policing is powerful – but it takes time and staff.  I am willing to pay more taxes to maintain our police staffing.
  • Reduction of 10 vacant Code Compliance positions:  In response to citizen input, this may be changed to only 4 positions.  We struggle continuously on E. Lancaster due to substandard buildings, unattended property, abandoned personal property, medians full of trash, brush and high weeds.  Our neighborhood association pays over $600 per month to a provider to pick up the trash from persons who distribute food and items that are then tossed by the recipients.  Our code officers do their best, but they have access to only one trailer and struggle to schedule a monthly detail to pick up thousands of pounds of abandoned property.  Similarly on Race Street, I struggle with illegal dumping on my property.  I’ve paid thousands of dollars on clean up.  But we don’t have enough camera’s to address all the chronic illegal dumping sites.  I have learned the truth of the adage “grime equals crime”.  I would be willing to pay a higher tax rate to have a code compliance department that can be pro-active.
  • Transfer General Fund portion of jail costs to Crime Control and Prevention District Fund:  The CCPD was developed to supplement regular expenses of the city with an emphasis on crime prevention.  If I understand correctly, we are moving a regular basic expense of the city into the CCPD.  We cannot pretend that our cost for public safety is less than what it is by sliding items into the CCPD.

Infrastructure

  • Reduction of contract street maintenance, in-house street maintenance and alleyway:  See above.  On East Lancaster we have significant areas with medians and public rights of way that cannot be maintained due to lack of capacity in the Code and Parks Departments.  I would be willing to pay a higher tax rate to maintain these services.

Government should always be working, as should any organization, to spend every dollar on the most effective strategies.  But for some perspective, Philadelphia’s budget is about $2400 per person.  Fort Worth’s proposal is about $1800 per person.  Philadelphia is a lot bigger than Fort Worth but it is also a rapidly growing city.  I was watching the City Council working session on-line as they reviewed the water and sewer budget details.  I was impressed by the analysis in the water budget that not only included concerns for what it cost to provide good services but also included an “affordability” assessment based on citizen incomes.  All of this analysis is important.  If you care about the city that operates around you, providing water, waste disposal, flood prevention, safety and sanitation, let your city council member know by email right away.  A city’s budget is an expression of its values.  Make sure yours are being expressed.  http://fortworthtexas.gov/government/