A statewide survey, conducted by United Ways of Texas in cooperation with United Way of Tarrant County, found that Texans are facing many challenges due to the pandemic, including meeting basic needs. The survey also found some Texas communities and populations are being hit disproportionately hard, and a majority of Texans are very worried about the health and economic well-being of their communities.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, key findings include:
The top concern among individuals is contracting COVID-19 (67%), followed by the economic health of the community (59%), mental health issues (40%), remote learning during the upcoming school year (38%) and attending church or other social gatherings (37%).
When asked about resources needed for their households, the most common answer was “help with bills” (22%) followed by new job opportunities (20%), assistance with paying rent/mortgage (18%), technology to assist with remote working and learning (15%), and health insurance coverage (13%).
To make ends meet during the pandemic, 22% said they increased the balance on credit cards, 21% said they applied for unemployment, 17% used a food pantry or food bank, 15% borrowed from family or friends and 12% applied for food stamps or the SNAP program.
Seventy-five percent of Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex households received a stimulus check. Among those, 34% said the check would cover family/household expenses for two weeks or less and the majority used the checks for rent or mortgage (37%), utilities (35%) and food (32%).
Among seniors, the top concern was contracting COVID-19 (74%), the economic health of the community (71%), attending church or other social gatherings (44%), mental health issues (34%) and medical issues other than COVID-19 (26%).
“The survey reinforces what we have seen first-hand in Tarrant County,” said Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “COVID-19 has greatly affected our community with many families struggling to make ends meet. And it has been even harder for vulnerable populations, including low-income families, senior citizens and children. Basic needs such as food, mortgage and rent, utilities, and medications continue to be the most needed.”
Since mid-March, the United Way of Tarrant County has invested $1.4 million from the Emergency Relief Fund, assisting more than 550,000 people impacted by COVID-19. In addition, through federal and state grants administered by the Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County, more than 203,268 meals have been delivered to 2,480 senior citizens. Total for this effort is $1,113,636.
United Way also established the Rebuild Tarrant County Fund to provide long-term assistance to the community as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has issued new guidelines to allow bars to qualify as restaurants in order to begin operating at 50% capacity with on-premises consumption of alcohol.
Bars are required to apply for and receive restaurant status from TABC. A TABC application and an associated fee are required.
If the business does not have a permanent designated area where food can be prepared and stored, there is an option to work with a third-party business such as a food truck to meet the restaurant designation.
“The City of Fort Worth is thrilled to assist bars during this unique time to begin operating again,” said Brandon Bennett, director of the Code Compliance Department. “Inspections and approvals will be provided free of charge by the Consumer Health Division of Code Compliance to confirm that a new, designated area meets all Texas Food Establishment Rules sanitation requirements.”
For more information and links, please visit: http://fortworthtexas.gov/news/2020/08/TABC-Bars-Guidance/
Cowtown Marathon organizers decided to move the 2021 weekend race dates and adjust all race weekend activities in response to ongoing pandemic concerns.
The Cowtown will now take place May 8, 2021, shifting from the traditionally scheduled last weekend in February. In-person races will occur on May 8 at Will Rogers Memorial Center and will only include a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and the Healthy Hig Half Marathon Relay. The Cowtown will offer virtual options to run the Kids 5K, Full Marathon and Ultra Marathon; there will be no in-person races for these distances.
“Rather than cancel this uniquely Fort Worth event, we’re committed to producing The Cowtown on a May 2021 date to accommodate social distancing, consolidate in-person events to one day and serve our loyal participants,” said Cowtown Executive Director Heidi Swartz. “Celebrating 43 years, the tradition continues, just in a different way due to the circumstances we all face.”
In lieu of running the Kids 5K onsite at Will Rogers, Cowtown will offer virtual and school-specific runs. Details will be communicated to school teams.
If a registered runner is unable to attend in-person on May 8, they are offered options for virtual participation or deferral to the 2022 or 2023 events.
“We feel this is the best course of action given the current public health circumstances and the tradition of Cowtown hosting the best possible, safest race in Texas,” Swartz said.
Registration is now open for the 2021 in-person races.
Fort Worth residents have two upcoming opportunities to preview the 2021 city budget. Budget meetings are scheduled for:
Aug. 29, 10 a.m. (District 6). Guests joining Councilmember Jungus Jordan will be City Manager David Cooke, Fire Chief Jim Davis, Police Chief Ed Kraus and Park & Recreation Director Richard Zavala.
Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m. (District 3) Guests joining Councilmember Brian Byrd are Cooke, Davis, Kraus and Police Oversight Monitor Kim Neal.
Watch the meetings live on Fort Worth TV, either online, on TV or on Facebook. You can also watch the meeting via the Fort Worth TV video library.
Residents can also provide feedback via email.
Tarrant County issued an order on Tuesday that extends the mask order through Nov. 30.
In addition, City Council further extended Mayor Price’s executive orderfor the city’s mask requirement through Dec. 1.
Businesses are required to adopt a Health and Safety Policy that requires employees and patrons to wear face coverings. Businesses that don’t comply could face a fine of up to $500.
The order does not include churches, which are exempt under a previous order by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Besides wearing face coverings, residents are asked to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from others when they’re outside of their own homes.
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce board of directors named President Brandom Gengelbach chief executive officer.
Gengelbach succeeds Bill Thornton, who recently retired. Thornton had been in the CEO/president role since 2000 after serving in economic development since 1989. Gengelbach joined the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce as executive vice president of economic development in November of 2016.
“Brandom’s 18 years of experience with numerous chambers and the strong community relationships he has built with the Fort Worth community have prepared him to take on this role. We are excited to begin working together and for the future of the chamber,” said Martin Noto, chairman of the chamber board and executive vice president and chief lending officer of Inwood National Bank. “His leadership has been invaluable to our members during the pandemic. He and staff have worked hard in providing resources and guidance along with reassurance that Fort Worth will persevere.”
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the chamber and work alongside Fort Worth business leaders and the Fort Worth community at this pivotal time in our region,” Gengelbach said. “I am equally humbled and energized to lead the chamber into a new phase of transformation and growth.”
Before coming to Fort Worth, Gengelbach served as president of the public-private Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance. He re-energized the Columbia, Tenn.-based organization, doubling membership while leading a three-year effort that brought 2,300 jobs to the county, $158 million in capital investment and a reduction in unemployment from 14% to less than 8%.
Gengelbach’s career included work in organizational development and corporate partnerships for the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and economic development for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Previously, he served Brisbane Marketing, the official marketing authority for the Greater Brisbane, Australia, region.
Gengelbach grew up in Houston and the Plano-Addison area. He holds an MBA from the University of Southampton, near London, where he was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. He received a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
Students from the University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth will help Tarrant County Public Health perform COVID-19 contact tracing under a $1.9 million contract approved by Tarrant County commissioners.
The agreement will pay for the students’ time, program management, human resource functions, a virtual call center and facilities to support contact tracing.
“HSC has the expertise and resources to be of valuable service to our community during this time of crisis,” HSC President Dr. Michael Williams said. “It is a natural partnership between the future health providers we train at HSC and Tarrant County Public Health professionals to work together to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.”
HSC will provide 90 part-time employees from five HSC schools – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Public Health, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Health Professions and College of Pharmacy — to participate in the program, the equivalency of 45 full-time employees.
The project is funded by the CARES Act approved by federal lawmakers earlier this year.
“Contact tracing is a key component to reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said. “We are pleased to partner again with HSC to help stay on top of this virus while also providing valuable training to HSC students.”
The contact tracing work is expected to begin Sept. 1, said Noah Drew, HSC senior director of external relations. Students will train and participate in an orientation before they begin contact tracing. Students will work through Dec. 30, when the contract ends.
The goal of contact tracing is to stop the spread of COVID-19. When people are notified that they may have been exposed to the virus through contact tracing, they can take steps to self-isolate, monitor their health and inform close contacts about potential risks.
Posted Aug. 17, 2020
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than 10 and must maintain 6 feet of social distancing from others.
View the governor’s executive order
“Large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases,” Abbott said. “Restricting the size of group gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe.”
An overview of the governor’s guidelines:
Limited to 10 people.
Excludes youth and adult recreational sports. See Sporting Events and Recreational Facilities section below for additional exclusions.
Face coverings are required unless consuming food or drink or attending a religious gathering.
Limited to 50% of the establishment’s normal capacity under the certificate of occupancy.
Event organizers should follow reopening protocols.
Excludes religious gatherings.
Closed on June 26 by Gov. Greg Abbott under Executive Order GA-28.
Bars can sell mixed drinks on premises to-go.
Limited to 50% of the establishment’s normal capacity under the restaurant’s certificate of occupancy.
There is no occupancy limit for outdoor dining areas, but each group of diners may not be larger than 10 people.
Sporting events and recreational facilities
Limited to 50% occupancy at professional, collegiate or similar sporting events; swimming pools; water parks; museums and libraries; zoos, aquariums, natural caverns and amusement parks.
Maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing between workstations at cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons/shops, barbers, massage establishments; personal-care and beauty services such as tanning salons, tattoo studios, piercing studios, hair removal services and hair loss treatment and growth services.
All religious services are exempt by the governor from mask mandates and occupancy limits.
There is no occupancy limit for child care, religious services or youth camps.
If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the recommended health and safety practices, the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed and Texas can remain open for business.
The City Council got its first look at a proposed $782 million fiscal 2021 general fund budget Tuesday, one that reflects some belt-tightening in the wake of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet maintains the current rate of capital investment.
Noting that Fort Worth is still growing, City Manager David Cooke presented a budget that is a lean $10 million increase from the fiscal 2020 budget. City departments have cut spending by $23 million this year because of declining revenues.
“This is the slowest growth in a number of years,” Cooke said. “Essentially, it’s a flat budget year-over-year.”
The proposed fiscal 2021 budget will continue to fund new facilities, improve equity of city services and enhance community policing. Water, sewer and solid waste fees will not increase. General employees will not receive pay raises in the upcoming fiscal year and the city is reducing its workforce by 120 positions, to 7,490 employees. A hiring freeze remains in place.
Fort Worth’s Capital and Operating Budgets – which includes the general, debt service, special revenue, enterprise and internal service funds – for fiscal 2021 remains unchanged at just under $2 billion. The city’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
The Council will receive the proposed Crime Control and Prevention District fiscal 2021 budget on Friday, Aug. 14.
Tuesday’s presentation comes one week after councilmembers received the proposed $394.3 million Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal 2021. That plan calls for evaluating infrastructure maintenance and investment based on equity and continuing neighborhood and transportation-related improvements.
Cooke is asking the council continue the current property tax rate of 74.75 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Of that, 59.5 cents goes to fund operations and 15.25 cents to debt service.
Fort Worth expects to collect $556.8 million in property tax revenue, up $15.6 million from last year. Projections put sales tax revenue $4.5 million lower, to $168.3 million to the city’s general fund in fiscal 2021.The general fund pays to operate city services and facilities. Property and sales taxes represent about 80 percent of the general fund budget.
Residents can comment on the recommended budget at public hearings on Sept. 1 and 15 and the tax rate on Sept. 15. The Council is scheduled to approve a tax rate, as well as the fiscal 2021 Capital and Operating Budgets, on Sept. 22.
Fort Worth will continue to invest in much-needed capital improvements while keeping the property tax rate at its current level despite today’s tight economic and financial conditions, Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke told the City Council Tuesday.
Cooke is recommending the Council continue the current property tax rate of 74.75 cents per $100 assessed valuation to fund city operations and services. “Keeping the current rate continues the city’s current level of capital investment,” he said.
Residents can comment on the recommended tax rate at public hearings on Sept. 1 and 15. The Council will approve a tax rate, as well as the fiscal 2021 Capital and Operating Budgets, on Sept. 22.
Cooke on Tuesday showed Council a five-year look at the Capital Improvement Plan, which calls for evaluating infrastructure maintenance and investment based on equity and continuing neighborhood improvements.
The fiscal 2021 $394.3 million Capital Improvement Plan includes general projects and those at the city’s airports, convention and Will Rogers Memorial centers, and water and stormwater improvements. Fort Worth’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
“Think about our impact on the community,” Cooke said. “We are spending $300 million to $400 million in capital every year. That’s a significant amount of money. The positive piece is we’re keeping our emphasis on infrastructure investment and the maintenance of that infrastructure.”
The city plans to spend $48.4 million on pay-as-you-go maintenance projects in fiscal 2021, an increase of $1.35 million from fiscal 2020. The additional money is mostly going to street and traffic light improvements, and $650,000 for sidewalk upgrades to improve access to transit.
Capital projects already underway include the Golden Triangle and Reby Cary Youth libraries, two fire stations, a south side police station, the north side animal shelter and some new parks and trails. Of the $399.5 million voter approved 2018 bond program, $124 million has been committed or spent on those projects, Cooke said.
Of the 74.75-cent property tax, 59.5 cents goes toward operations and maintenance, and the remaining 15.25 cents to debt service. In fiscal 2021, the city is budgeting $556.8 million in property tax revenue, a 3 percent increase, or $15.5 million, from fiscal 2020. By comparison, the city saw a $48 million increase from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2020.
Starting in 2022, property tax revenue is projected to remain flat for a couple years, or even decline. Sales tax and other revenues should increase, but conservatively at about 4 percent, Cooke said.
The City Council adopted a $771.9 million fiscal 2020 general fund budget, but declining sales tax and drops in other revenues necessitated cutting $23 million to balance the current budget.
Councilmembers will receive the proposed fiscal 2021 general fund budget on Aug. 11. The general fund pays to operate city services and facilities. Property and sales taxes fund 80 percent of the general fund budget. Fort Worth’s budget includes several other funds, including debt service and those that operate the water and wastewater utility, airports and special projects, among them. The city’s fiscal 2020 operating budget was more than $1.9 billion.
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