There are endless important tasks at City Hall. I find that having core priorities gives us a compass to stay focused and, at the end of the day, know we worked hard to complete our mission and stay true to our values. I’ve outlined my priorities as leading a fiscally responsible city; fostering an engaged public; promoting sustainable growth; and building a healthy community.
Leading a Fiscally Responsible City
A strong fiscal conservative and former small business owner, Betsy believes that business principles can be applied in government to ensure every tax dollar is used responsibly and effectively. As Mayor, Betsy continues to work with citizens, city staff and her fellow City Council members on a continuous improvement process to tighten the city’s belt while efficiently delivering critical city services.
“Every large organization has inefficiencies, and I made it a personal mission to find those inefficiencies and begin to tackle them with the goal of making every tax dollar count. The needs across our city are too great, and Fort Worth simply cannot afford to be ineffective or inefficient in delivering service to our citizens. Every penny should matter at City Hall.” – Betsy
Follow the links below to learn more about Betsy’s priorities and accomplishments in Leading a Fiscally Responsible City:
Doing more with less
Upon arriving at City Hall, expenses were pulling away from revenues in the city budget. It was an unsustainable situation that required action. With a close eye on the bottom line, Betsy led the effort to turn that tide and brought revenue and expenses back in line to ensure the city is stretching every dollar to deliver the essential services citizens expect and deserve. Thanks to this work, Betsy and the City Council was able to reduce the property tax rate for the 2017 city budget. She also continues to lead the systematic plan to ensure the city is responsibly building financial capacity to address the city’s growing infrastructure needs.
Leading pension reform
When Betsy was elected, the city was facing a debilitating public employee pension crisis. As the pension plan stood, the tax payers would never be able to pay for the obligations to current and future retirees. Betsy championed the efforts to make bold changes to the city’s pension plan in 2012 to protect taxpayers and stabilize the fund for current and future retirees. Although these changes were unpopular with the public unions, Betsy stood strong on her principles to protect the taxpayers while ensuring the city kept it promises to pay pension benefits that had already been earned. This effort continues, and Betsy is committed to seeing the best outcome possible for employees and citizens.
Doing public good with private funds
Betsy believes in the power of doing public good with private investment. Putting to good use her decades of experience building personal and professional bridges, Betsy matched generous benefactors with community needs to help the city with everything from health and fitness, to public engagement, to public pools, to animal adoptions and more. The rebuilt Forest Park Pool, the Blue Zones Program and the city’s FitWorth healthy initiative are just a few examples of how public/private partnerships can greatly benefit the people of Fort Worth.
Putting customer service back in government
Betsy understands the importance of city ordinances that protect the public, but she also believes that a city should not stand in the way of progress. Betsy continues to push for continuous improvement of the city’s complicated permitting processes.
Fostering an Engaged Public
Betsy believes no Mayor can effectively represent citizens from behind a desk—you have to be active and engaged in the diverse communities that together make Fort Worth the place we are proud to call home. It’s about listening. It’s about uniting neighborhoods and strengthening partnerships. It’s about building trust in local government.
“Mayors have the important responsibility to represent all citizens. And we can’t represent citizens unless we listen. That doesn’t mean we always agree or that we can pander to each and every group or individual with an opinion. We build trust in government by listening and shooting straight with people. We’re building that trust by creating forums and opportunities that allow citizens to conveniently connect with their city and their elected representatives. An engaged city is a strong city!” – Betsy
Follow the links below to learn more about Betsy’s priorities and accomplishments in Fostering an Engaged Public:
Rethinking the “Town Hall” concept
A growing, diverse city like Fort Worth requires creative ideas to connect with citizens. Betsy turned the tired Town Hall format on its head with the addition of wheels and tennis shoes. She gained national attention for her Rolling Town Halls and also instituted Walking Town Halls for those preferring to keep their feet on the ground. These events have broken the mold as a casual—and healthy—way for citizens to connect with their mayor. In an effort to meet all needs, Betsy maintains her “Caffeinated Town Halls,” which mix a more traditional town hall approach with a more casual setting. Moreover, leveraging the power of social technology, Price also brings communities together through Twitter Town Halls. In 2013, Betsy led the charge to launch YourFortWorth.org, the city’s first 24/7 online crowdsourcing forum allowing citizens to share and vote on new ideas to improve their city. Over the course of several months, hundreds of ideas were submitted and rated by other citizens. At the end of the program, several ideas were adopted and have since made a lasting and positive impact on the city.
Giving a voice to younger citizens
Empowering faith communities
Shortly after being elected as mayor, Betsy sparked a movement to engage young people. She was dismayed by the low voter turnout in this particular demographic. Knowing what they have to offer, she was determined to not only see more of them at the polls, but see more young residents driving local public policy. Within a matter of months, citizens under the age of 40 from across the city came together, set a charge and dubbed themselves SteerFW
. The organization has grown to more than 300-strong, with various task forces tackling some of the cities toughest challenges. What’s more, this program is breeding the next generation of city leaders.
Betsy understands that the heart and soul of a community is its faith-based congregations. Together, faith congregations representing all religions have the power to put boots on the ground in order to affect real and positive change. Betsy established her Faith-Based Cabinet to do just that. Just one of the many positive outcomes has been the Compassionate Fort Worth initiative that is promoting Unity, Volunteerism and Abundance in communities across Fort Worth.
Promoting Sustainable Growth
Betsy believes that a city should grow. But there must be a thoughtful strategy for responsible and economically sustainable growth. That means designing a city with safe neighborhoods, a strong urban core and robust infrastructure that promotes a wide variety transportation options. It also means building a city that’s secure in a sound economy with a growing, diverse and competitive business portfolio backed by a skilled workforce.
“To be sustainable, a city must grow responsibly. It’s about building a city that thrives through the ups and downs for generations to come. Our vision for a sustainable city touches every part of local government, business development and public education. Fort Worth can be a shining example of a successful and diverse city that is competitive on the national and global stage.”
Follow the links below to learn more about Betsy’s priorities and accomplishments in Promoting Sustainable Growth.
Protecting our homes and businesses
Fort Worth remains one of the safest large cities in the United States. In 2015, Betsy helped lead the effort to add a sixth Police District to ensure effective public safety services for the citizens of the expanding north reaches of Fort Worth. Betsy supported the efforts to design and construct a new state-of-the-art Police and Fire Training Center to ensure the city has the capacity to add new police and fire recruits as the city grows. The training center, named after the late Mayor Bob Bolen, will also ensure Fort Worth police officers and fire fighters are among the best trained and equipped. Betsy remains a staunch supporter of community policing and the Crime Control and Prevention District, both of which have been game-changers when it comes to fighting crime.
Leading an urban renaissance
Under Betsy’s leadership, the city continues its strategic focus to redevelop and strengthen its urban core. Since the 1980s, Fort Worth expanded its borders rapidly, adding more and more suburbs, stretching thin the city’s ability to effectively serve all citizens. Today, a deliberate strategy to strengthen the urban core is underway, bringing citizens back into the central city while still providing quality city services to those who prefer to live outside Loop 820. From downtown, to West 7th Street, to Southside, to development of Gateway Park in the east and the Trinity River Vision to the north—Fort Worth’s urban development strategic has been a resounding success that will benefit generations to come.
Taking a stand for transportation options
Promoting public education
If a city is to be sustainable, it must have a safe, convenient and robust transportation system that safely support all transit modes—vehicles, trains, pedestrians and cyclists. It must also have a convenient public transportation system. Betsy remains focused on shifting the tides on the city’s aging infrastructure. After being elected as Mayor, Betsy faced a serious challenge with an aging infrastructure that had been woefully underfunded for many years. In response, she led the efforts to draft the multi-year strategy systematically shift more city dollars into capital infrastructure projects without increasing tax rates.
Betsy has also been a leader in promoting convenient modes of public transportation. She was a strong champion for the Fort Worth Bike Share project and pushed for expanded bus and commuter service. She also led the move to deregulate the vehicle-for-hire industry in Fort Worth so citizens can safely enjoy the convenience of innovative public transportation companies, like Uber and Lyft. Adding commuter rail service between downtown and DFW Airport continues to be a major project for Betsy, and she believes it will prove successful and pave the way for additional commuter rail connections in the future.
Under Betsy’s leadership, the city has opened the doors for safer transportation on foot and by bike. The city adopted its first Complete Streets policy that will guide the city’s street design for decades to come, ensuring major city streets are safe for all modes of transportation. With her support, the city also adopted the Safe Passing Ordinance, to codify the rights of cyclists to safely share the road with other travelers. These laws will ensure the city remains safe while growing responsibly—especially in the higher-density urban core.
Betsy not only believes in the power of every child to succeed, but she also understands that quality public education represents an effective economic development strategy for any growing city. Betsy continues to be a champion for public education and established the Mayor’s Education Advisory Committee to strengthen strategic partnerships between schools and businesses. Also, with support from the private sector, Betsy also created the non-profit organization called SPARC! The organization’s mission is to strengthen after-school programs through Advocacy, Resources and Collaboration. Today, SPARC! is successfully advocating for exceptional after-school programs and serves as a resource for both parents and providers.
Attracting good-paying jobs
Along with a strong public education system to support a competitive workforce, Betsy also understands the city’s role in supporting local businesses and attracting new businesses to provide good-paying jobs. After being elected as Mayor, Betsy quickly identified a gap in the city’s vision to promote itself in the global marketplace. With support from the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor’s International Business Committee was established to think strategically about promoting Fort Worth on the global stage and raise money for such efforts. Along with Fort Worth’s competitive economic development programs, Fort Worth has been able to lure countless new businesses—the likes of Facebook, Amazon, General Electric and others—that have added hundreds of new good-paying jobs.
Building a Healthy Community
Instead of a community that leaves little options but to sit in cars, on the couch or in the office every day, Betsy envisions a bright city that naturally promotes health, active lifestyles.
“A healthy city is a productive city, and it’s vitally important that we not only promote healthy lifestyles among adults, but our children as well. We also need to build a city that encourages active lifestyles and makes healthy choice easy choices. None of us want to live in communities where our cars and trucks are the only forms of transportation. Being healthy is great for the individual, it’s great for business and it supports a more sustainable city.”
Follow the links below to learn more about Betsy’s priorities and accomplishments in Building a Healthy Community:
Promoting active lifestyles
Betsy believes that a truly healthy city is one that utilizes its assets and natural resources to promote physical activity. That’s why greenspace preservation and park expansion is high among Betsy’s priorities. Whether its Gateway Park improvements, ZBoaz Dog Park, new recreation facilities or new trail connections—they all have to do with expanding opportunities for citizens and families to enjoy the outdoors. Fort Worth is healthier for it!
Fighting childhood obesity
Not long after taking office, Mayor Betsy gathered interested community partners to establish a community initiative called FitWorth to promote active lifestyles and healthy habits in both kids and adults. With an initial $250,000 grant from Oncor, and a partnership with UNT Health Science Center, FitWorth is working to stem the rising tide of obesity, especially in children. Thanks to FitWorth, employers, schools, hospitals, faith communities, non-profits and retailers are energized and actively promoting a more healthy and sustainable city. Thousands of local children and their families have been touched by this special program.
Making the healthy choice the easy choice
Under Betsy’s leadership, Fort Worth was selected as one of eight American cities to work toward a Blue Zones certification. The Blue Zones Projects® leverages secrets discovered in rare longevity hotspots around the world to help transform communities across the U.S. into areas where the healthy choice is easy. As a result, people live longer with a higher quality of life. When our entire community participates—from our worksites and schools to our restaurants and grocery stores—the small changes contribute to huge benefits for all citizens and businesses: lower healthcare costs, improved productivity and an overall higher quality of life.
Promoting Fort Worth as an active city destination
Word is out about Fort Worth’s focus on promoting healthy, active lifestyles, and more and more healthy events are swarming to Fort Worth as an active destination. The long-standing Cowtown Marathon, Race for the Cure and other familiar Fort Worth events, are being joined by new outdoor activities including The Mayor’s Triathlon, Tour de Fort Worth and many more. All of this helps spread the message that Fort Worth is a fit city—and that helps lure business and new tax revenue to support essential city services for citizens.