Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fort Worth is listening?


Well, then we'll tell you what the FW Weekly and THE PEOPLE say.

“We are funding projects like Trinity River Vision, tourism-related programs, sporting events, and tax breaks, but we can’t find the money for core residential services,” Thomas said. She charged that cutbacks made last year in the city’s program for mowing on vacant private property and city-owned lands are already having an effect on property values, and further cutbacks will increase the problem.

Some local leaders are again questioning the city’s decisions on how to use its sizable gas drilling revenues. About $120 million in bonus money and royalties has come in thus far, but only about $30 million of that has been budgeted for spending, all on capital improvement projects.

Federal government policies restrict how some of the income can be used, particularly that from drilling under parks and at airports. However, it was the city council’s own decision to put about half the drilling income into trust funds, where the capital cannot be touched for 20 years. If that’s a “rainy-day fund,” as the council has said, many local activists believe the rainy days are here, and the money should be used to alleviate the current budget woes.

While the city is banking the drilling income, one activist said, neighborhoods are paying the price for the damage done to health, quality of life, and property values by the wells and other drilling activity.

“What is happening is that the city is getting all this money and not spending it on basic city services, and we in the neighborhoods are taking a hit,” he said. “We don’t have money for city street improvements and pools and a decent library system. People in the neighborhoods are just trying to keep their heads above water.”

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