Council accepts Race and Culture Task Force recommendations

The City Council accepted a slate of more than 20 recommendations from the Task Force on Race and Culture on December 11.

Mayor Betsy Price directed city staff to research costs of implementing the recommendations and to investigate how other large cities in Texas and across the nation handle issues of racial and cultural disparity.

If all aspects of the recommendations were to be approved and implemented, there would be a $3 million impact on the fiscal year 2020 city budget. The costs would represent .5 percent of the city’s general fund budget and would add seven full-time and 20 part-time staff positions.

Further action on implementing the recommendations is expected in 2019.

View the recommendations.

About the task force

The task force was asked to engage Fort Worth residents in a series of healthy conversations about race and culture, draw conclusions from these conversations and make recommendations to the City Council. The task force also reviewed findings of a study on disparities in how municipal services are provided. The task force was asked to advise city management on an appropriate leadership training dealing with race and cultural issues.

Co-chairs were Rosa Navejar (presiding co-chair), Lillie Biggins, Rabbi Andrew Bloom and Bob Ray Sanders.

View full post on City News

North Texas continues to explore a future with hyperloop technology

The Regional Transportation Council (RTC) wants to know more about hyperloop technology and how it could be used to revolutionize travel. After Virgin Hyperloop One named Texas one of 10 areas to be considered for hyperloop technology, a delegation of RTC members visited the company’s test facility in North Las Vegas, walking away impressed with its potential to revolutionize travel.

Seeing firsthand the test site, which displays the sleek cylinder tunnel on top of cement pillars and stretches approximately five football fields, intensified the interest of the RTC members in this revolutionary transportation choice. Experts and engineers were in attendance during the visit to answer any questions about the system in terms of its functionality, unique attributes and the impact it could potentially have in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Hyperloop is powered by magnetic levitation, removing air pressure within the cylindrical tube and leaving zero resistance against the moving pod. The pod floats just above the rails inside the tube and makes the travel experience similar to flying on a plane, minus the turbulence. With the absence of air pressure, the pod has reached up to 240 mph during testing.

The RTC has also agreed to consider both hyperloop and high-speed rail technology as part of the environmental analysis of the Fort Worth-to-Dallas corridor that would connect to Texas Central Partners’ Dallas-to-Houston HSR project. In addition to moving people rapidly, the hyperloop technology is looking to improve the transportation of goods and products.

There is another potential use of this system. The Fort-Worth-to-Laredo corridor could include a goods-movement component to a potential hyperloop line. The geography of North Texas makes it an attractive potential site to test this technology. DFW provides two metropolitan areas located on a straight and flat plain just over 30 miles apart.

Because of the expected population of 11.2 million people by 2045, both Virgin Hyperloop One and the RTC see this as an opportunity to provide a more efficient and environmentally-friendly transportation method to a population that is open to new ideas in transportation.

With a need to provide North Texas residents with more travel options, while positively impacting air quality, the RTC sees a bright future for hyperloop technology in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

View full post on City News

City council votes to approve pension solution

The city council voted to approve the pension plan proposed at last night’s meeting.

Council members voted to approve the plan as follows:

  • For: Mayor Betsy Price, Councilmembers Carlos Flores, Brian Byrd, Cary Moon, Gyna Bivens, Jungus Jordan, Dennis Shingleton and Ann Zadeh
  • Against: None
  • Present but abstained from voting: Kelly Allen Gray
  • Absent: None

The final plan that was accepted by the city council includes increasing contributions from the city and employees, eliminating service credit for future accruals of sick leave and major medical leave, and making changes to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs). (More detailed information on each element, and a list of frequently asked questions are being prepared for future distribution.)

Key elements of the proposed pension plan are:

Benefit changes

  • The current COLA has been entirely preserved for the following:
    • Current retirees
    • Any active employees with Blue Service who retire early with a penalty or enter DROP by Jan. 1, 2021
    These members will receive either a simple 2% COLA for their years of Blue Service, or an ad hoc COLA depending on their previous individual selection.
  • COLAs have been eliminated for future service for all employees, starting July 20, 2019. This means that employees with Blue Service will not receive a COLA for their future service after this cut-off.
  • For employees with Blue Service, who do not retire or enter DROP, the COLA for service earned prior to July 20, 2019, will now be variable based on the health of the pension fund for those employees with service earned prior to July 20, 2019, who do not retire or enter DROP. (This variable COLA is highly unlikely to be triggered in the foreseeable future.) Employees with only Orange Service continue to have no COLA.
  • The maximum DROP period will increase from five to six years, effective July 20, 2019, (and contingent on a successful employee contribution increase vote).
  • Note: The minimum retirement age of 55 for future service of blue service General Employees and for all Fire Fighters is no longer included in the proposal.

Contribution changes (Contingent upon a successful employee vote)

  • City will increase contributions by 4.5%
  • Plan members will increase their contributions as follows:
    • General employees: 1.1% + 0.7% (Blue Service) (.5%)
    • Police/Fire employees: 3.8% (1.9%)
    • Police 25 & out: 0.6% (.2%)
  • Employee contributions to the pension will be restored for all overtime hours, contingent on a successful vote.
  • The city council adopted a risk sharing mechanism in the event that health of the pension fund is not restored by the actions listed above. City management anticipates that this mechanism will kick in during 2022 if the city/employee/fund’s combined contribution is less than what is required to meet the guidelines set for the 30-year amortization period. At that time, both city contributions and employee contributions would increase a maximum of 2% per year for no more than two years, and would be split 60/40 between the city and employees.
  • Below is the anticipated schedule to phase in the changes and the likely timing of the risk-sharing triggers.
Current contributions Contributions as of July 20, 2019* 2020 2021 Risk Trigger: 2022 Risk Trigger: 2023
General employee contributions 8.25% 9.35% (Increase by 1.1% for Orange Service) 10.15% (Increase by 0.8% for Orange Service) 10.95% (Increase by 0.8% for Orange Service)
10.05% (Increase by 1.1% + 0.7% for for Blue Service) 10.85% (Increase by 0.8% for for Blue Service) 11.65% (Increase by 0.8% for for Blue Service)
Police contributions 8.73% 10.53% (Increase by 1.8%) 12.53% (Increase by 2%) 13.13% (Increase by 0.6%) 13.93% (Increase by 0.8%) 14.73% (Increase by 0.8%)
Fire contributions 8.25% 10.05% (Increase by 1.8%) 12.05% (Increase by 2%) 12.85% (Increase by 0.8%) 13.65% (Increase by 0.8%)
City contributions 19.74% (Increase by 4.5% for General & Fire) 24.24% (Increase by 1.2% for General & Fire) 25.44% (Increase by 1.2% for General & Fire) 26.64% (Increase by 1.2% for General & Fire)
20.46% (Increase by 4.5% for Police) 24.96% (Increase by 1.2% for Police) 26.16% (Increase by 1.2% for Police) 27.36% (Increase by 1.2% for Police)
  • Retroactive to PP1 of city’s 2019 calendar year. Please note: Each percentage is active the first pay period (PP1) of the calendar year

The pension solution accepted by city council keeps contributions from the city and its employees as low as possible, protects retirees, keeps the risk sharing mechanism, meets the guidelines for the 30-year amortization period, and keeps discussions about the future of Fort Worth’s pension in Fort Worth, instead of at the state Legislature.

Next steps

Now that council has approved the plan, it will move to an employee vote in February. The date of the vote has been pushed back a month to allow for a robust employee communication and education campaign, which will take place throughout January.

A majority of all employees – 50 percent plus one of all employees, not just those employees who vote – must agree to the proposed employee contribution portion of the plan for the plan to succeed. If the proposed plan does not get a majority of employee votes, it will go to the state Legislature for a final decision.

View full post on City News

Protect your ride and what’s inside while holiday shopping

If motorists aren’t careful, some of the best deals this holiday shopping season won’t even be inside the store — they’ll be sitting right out front in the parking lot.

The Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), a division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, offers these simple precautions to combat theft and keep your holiday shopping season joyous:

  • Hide valuables from plain sight. This holiday season is already looking like it could be a cold one, so it may be wise to pack a blanket, which can also provide a great cover for gifts when you aren’t able to get home quickly with your purchases. Another tip that’s often overlooked: keep your cellphone cords and other device accessories out of sight. Burglars are willing to break a window or try a door when they see a cord because there’s a chance that a device will be in the vehicle.
  • Park in well-lighted areas or attended lots. Car thieves and burglars use the cover of night to avoid witnesses and detection. The same goes for unattended parking lots. If you have to do your shopping after the sun goes down, be sure to park in a well-lighted area. Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re alone and it’s late, consider asking the store security to accompany you to your parked vehicle.
  • Don’t leave sensitive documents in your car. A car burglar may take your sensitive information to commit identity fraud. Instead of keeping this in the glove compartment of your vehicle, keep it in your wallet or purse.
  • Never leave your car running while unattended, even if you’ll only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when they are left unattended to warm up. Leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime in Texas.
  • Lock your vehicle. While it’s the most obvious bit of advice, reports from specialized auto theft investigators indicate that far too many motorists forget to lock their vehicles. In some areas, investigators report that about half of burglaries and thefts are directly attributed to unlocked vehicles.

To learn more about how to protect yourself, visit the ABTPA webpage.

View full post on City News

Enjoy the holiday season with fire safety in mind

As you deck the halls this holiday season, the Fort Worth Fire Department encourages you to be fire smart. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly.

When selecting your live tree, choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in its stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Check the water level daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it’s dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside against the house.
  • In Fort Worth, trees can be placed curbside for recycling or taken to one of the drop-off stations.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and to make them last longer.

View full post on City News

Small Business of the Year finalists named

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce announced its 2019 Small Business of the Year finalists.

The awards recognize and honor businesses that have demonstrated best practices of entrepreneurship, such as sound business planning, fiscal responsibility and work process innovation in operating their business.

The finalists are:
Emerging Business

  • 6th Avenue Homes, one-stop shop for buying, selling, renovation and design.
  • Locavore, an all-inclusive resource for food entrepreneurs who wish for low-risk, affordable access to a commercial kitchen and event venue.
  • Signature Cuffs, which provide women a personal confidence in their appearance by offering a high-end fashion accessory that can bring refinement to the clothes they feel most comfortable wearing.

Manufacturing/Distribution

  • M-Pak, which provides solutions tailored to fit and protect all shapes and sizes.
  • Sellmark Corp., developing, acquiring, manufacturing, marketing, selling and distributing outdoor products.
  • Silver Creek Materials, which offers competitive prices, fast, professional services and high-quality products for the recycling, compost, mining and organic products industry.

Consumer/Retail

  • Alchemy Pops, handcrafted frozen pops that make you feel as great as they taste.
  • Klapprodt Pools has become synonymous with quality and customer satisfaction in the swimming pool industry.
  • Tribe Alive, an ethical fashion brand focused on moving the industry toward a more sustainable approach.

Professional Services

  • Affairs Afloat Balloons provides balloons ranging from small gifts to large-scale trade show displays.
  • Elements of Architecture creates environments that shape the human experience.
  • Sportherapy, a physical therapist-owned and -operated provider of rehabilitation services that emphasizes evidence-based clinical excellence, customer service and exceptional patient care.

The awards will be presented to the winner in each category on Feb. 19, 2019, during the Mayor’s State of the City luncheon.

View full post on City News

Fort Worth Court Director Theresa Ewing receives national award

Theresa Ewing, director of the Fort Worth Municipal Court, received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts. The award is presented annually to honor those who have made substantial contributions to the field of court administration and to the work of the National Center for State Courts.

“We are grateful for the contributions Theresa has made to improve the operation of the courts nationally and to enhance the work of the National Center for State Courts,” said President Mary C. McQueen. “This award is a small symbol of our appreciation.”

Check out an interview with Ewing in the blog of the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center.

View full post on City News

Are you ready for winter conditions?

Winter weather conditions can leave you stranded on a highway or stuck in your home without power for long periods of time. Do you have everything you’ll need to comfortably ride out an ice storm or heavy snowfall in your vehicle and home?

The Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management offers these tips:

Vehicle preparedness

  • Place blankets, gloves, scarves, stocking hat, bottled water and nonperishable energy snacks in your vehicle’s trunk to keep you warm and hydrated.
  • If your vehicle is spinning out on ice, clay kitty litter can help you gain momentum.
  • You might even consider carrying a shovel in the trunk to help get out of a snowdrift or to break up ice.
  • An ice scraper, first aid kit, flashlight, cellphone charger or power bank, screwdrivers and pliers, flares, plus jumper cables may also be needed.

Home preparedness

  • Build a 72 hour emergency kit that contains everything you’ll need if the power goes out.
  • You’ll need a good supply of emergency light sticks, flashlights, batteries, portable NOAA All Hazard radio, power bank to recharge your cellphone, blankets, stocking hat, gloves.
  • Attempting to heat your home by turning on a gas oven or using a charcoal grill may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Remember to keep flammable items away from heat sources such as candles and fireplaces.
  • Maintain situational awareness by checking weather forecasts daily so you’ll know what to expect before you leave home or work.

To learn more about North Central Texas disaster preparedness, visit the KnoWhat2Do website.

View full post on City News

Developers asked to submit ideas for urban village in Historic Southside

The Evans & Rosedale Urban Village, located in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside, is looking for a master developer.

A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) by a Master Developer was published December 6, 2018, for the redevelopment of properties located in the Evans & Rosedale Urban Village that are owned by three related public entities – the City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation, and Fort Worth Local Development Corporation.

The RFEI calls for developers to submit ideas for how the area can be redeveloped into a mixed-use urban village that is inspired by the history of the area and prior plans, while embracing current market opportunities. Construction is expected to be underway within the next three years.

“This master developer contract is important to Historic Southside residents and to Fort Worth because it will revitalize not just the empty tracts of land at Evans and Rosedale but also this entire historically important section of Southeast Fort Worth.” says Robert Sturns, the city’s economic development director.

The area near the intersection of Evans Avenue and Rosedale Street was an economic and social center for Fort Worth’s African-American community in the early to mid-twentieth century, and its architectural landmarks are symbolic reminders of the community’s vitality before disinvestment transformed the Historic Southside and other central city neighborhoods, according to the 2004 Market Study commissioned by the city.

Process for the selection of a Master Developer

Developers’ responses to the RFEI will be scored by a committee of stakeholders, and the top three responses will be displayed at the Shamblee Library, 1062 Evans Ave., for public comment in late February and early March.

Following this public comment period, a final proposal will be recommended to the City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation, and the Fort Worth Local Development Corporation. The developer who submitted the recommended proposal will then be contracted as Master Developer for the urban village, and will work with these public entities and nearby residents to create specific developments for the area.

Submit proposals

More information about the RFEI, the area’s historical information, and prior plans can be found on the city’s website.

Contact Carol Griffith at 817-392-6027 for questions about this opportunity.

Responses from developers are due at 5 p.m. CST Feb. 1, 2019.

View full post on City News

Race and Culture Task Force presents recommendations to Council

The Task Force on Race and Culture concluded 18 months of work when it presented the City Council with a slate of more than 20 recommendations this week.

View the recommendations.

In 2017, the City Council appointed a 23-member task force to examine issues related to race and culture in Fort Worth. The task force asked for community input through a series of meetings and online engagement tools. As a result, thousands of residents participated in dozens of town hall-style meetings and smaller gatherings called Community Conversations.

Seven subcommittees studied racial equity and bias in several areas: criminal justice, economic development, education, health, housing, municipal governance and transportation. Each of the subcommittees included members of the larger Race and Culture Task Force, as well as subject matter experts and support staff from the City of Fort Worth.

Presiding Co-Chair Rosa Navejar acknowledged the task force’s work over the last 18 months and said the recommendations represent a giant step forward for Fort Worth’s leadership and residents.

“We know that nothing is perfect; we’re never going to please everyone,” Navejar said. “But we have to start somewhere. This is where we start today.”

The City Council will vote on accepting the recommendations during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at City Hall, 200 Texas St.

If all aspects of the recommendations were to be approved and implemented, there would be a $3 million impact on the fiscal year 2020 city budget. The costs would represent .5 percent of the city’s general fund budget and would add seven full-time and 20 part-time staff positions.

About the task force

The task force was asked to engage Fort Worth residents in a series of healthy conversations about race and culture, draw conclusions from these conversations and make recommendations to the City Council. The task force also reviewed findings of a study on disparities in how municipal services are provided. The task force was asked to advise city management on an appropriate leadership training dealing with race and cultural issues.

Co-chairs were Rosa Navejar (presiding co-chair), Lillie Biggins, Rabbi Andrew Bloom and Bob Ray Sanders.

For updates on the task force’s work, follow on social media:

View full post on City News