The audit, released along with its accompanying Single Audit Report, was carried out by Forvis LLC, an accounting and advisory firm out of Springfield, Missouri.
At the end of FY 2022, Fort Worth had increased its “net position” by over $273 million, going from $3,887,154,000 in FY 2021 to $4,160,314,000. That net position is a combination of Fort Worth’s assets, liabilities, and inflow and outflow of resources.
The city was also said it made progress on its stated goal of increasing its percentage of operating reserve in the General Fund from 16.67 percent to 25 percent by FY 2024, an equivalent of three months of operating expenses. As of FY 2022, Fort Worth has 21 percent operating reserve.
The new financial position should allow the city to continue pursuing solutions to its top-priority challenges as stated in the report: maintaining or lowering the property tax rate in the general fund, increasing funding for capital investment and maintenance, meeting infrastructure needs related to the 2018 and 2022 Bond programs, stopping use of fund reserves for operations, improving equity of city services, enhancing public safety, and preparing for slower growth of resources both in the short and long term.
Forvis, the firm that carried out the audit, gave the report a positive ”clean” opinion. Ben Kohnle, a partner at Forvis, commented, “Overall, it’s an excellent report.”
The audit did find an issue with the reporting of a federal grant issued to the Fort Worth Aviation Department, but the city and the auditors have announced they are taking corrective action. Dan Barron, another partner at Forvis, stated, “Management has put a process in place to rectify this to see it resolved.”
Notably, Fort Worth lowered the property tax rate for FY 2023 to $0.7125 per $100 assessed valuation, a reduction of two cents. The city council has reduced the property tax rate five out of the last six years for a total of 12.25 cents, keeping with its goal to lower the property tax rate.
However, property taxes can still go up because of continuously rising property evaluations. Fort Worth’s total appraised value increased 10.9 percent in 2022, an increase of $12.5 billion. Texas law does prevent increases in assessed taxable value on homesteads over 10 percent per year.
Also of note, the embattled Panther Island Project has also received $20 million in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2023 work plan. The project received $403 million last year to design water gates and pump stations, finish designing the bypass channel and valley storage sites, and complete other required aquatic mitigation.
The $20 million allocated for this year allows design work to continue on the remaining features of the project, including finishing isolation gates and the Tarrant Regional Water District’s pump station beyond the initial design.
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Seth Morehead is a regional reporter for The Texan in Tarrant County, and was born and raised in Fort Worth. He spent time in high school competing in speech and debate competitions, as well as covering local high school football games with his friends both as a writer and a photographer. He loves visiting new places and has traveled all over the world. Seth is an avid sports fan and is passionate about his community.