By Jackie Stone
The Cove Herald
LAMPASAS - County commissioners on Monday added their stamp of approval to that of several other entities to allow the city of Copperas Cove to seek pass-through financing for a U.S. Highway 190 bypass.
Cove City Manager Andrea Gardner attended the regular Lampasas County Commissioners Court meeting to lay out the latest financing plan that officials hope will result in the long-discussed bypass becoming a reality.
"It seems to be the only viable option to get this done now," she said.
After a short discussion, commissioners approved a resolution in favor of the pass-through financing process. At the Copperas Cove City Council meeting last week, council members authorized Gardner to seek pass-through for the project.
If the application, due May 11, is approved, the Texas Department of Transportation would reimburse the city for about $8 million of the total cost of the project with payments beginning one year after construction is complete.
About $42 million of the projected $55 million cost would be paid by Category 3 state funding that the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization tentatively reserved from TxDOT during a meeting in Austin on Feb. 10. The maximum pass-through financing, about 82 percent of the total cost, comes to $49.86 million.
On Monday, County Judge Wayne Boultinghouse and commissioners agreed in discussion with Gardner that the bypass would positively impact Lampasas.
Commissioner Robert Vincent, who represents the east end of Lampasas County near Copperas Cove and is a member of KTMPO, said the bypass will help with road safety in Cove and potentially bring more people to Lampasas.
"Economically, it's going to help out Lampasas County because it will make it more accessible to the military community at Fort Hood," he said.
The county and city also discussed ways to resolve an expired lease for property at the Lampasas Municipal Airport.
Lampasas City Manager Michael Stoldt told commissioners that the city discovered that the county had technically been in control of half of the airport 182-acre property since a 25-year lease expired in 2006. Stoldt said he had thought the original contract was a sale from the county for its half of the property.
The city discovered the lapse while preparing for an economic development project.
Stoldt said the question to the county was whether they wanted to create a new lease, forgo their half of the property to the city or begin helping with half of the upkeep costs.
"The airport is not a money maker," Stoldt said. "Our general fund does not go directly to the airport, but we provide manpower and upkeep."
Commissioners opted to table the matter pending further information. In the meantime, they discussed setting up an informal committee including city and county representatives to discuss possible solutions that would benefit both sides.
In other action:
Commissioners gave their stamp of approval to giving the newly formed Lampasas County Higher Education Center control of half the funds that were collected for it from city and county entities.
The county, city, Lampasas Independent School District and Lampasas Economic Development Corporation each put in $25,000 to help develop the higher education center where students from the high school level to adults can take upper-level coursework on their way to a career or a degree.
The city has been in possession of the $100,000, but plans to transfer $50,000 into the hands of the center after LCHEC's board appointed a chief executive officer last week, Stoldt said.
Commissioners also discussed but took no action on a new telephone service for the county, changes to the rabies and animal control ordinance and closing a portion of County Road 2737.
Contact Jackie Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow her on Twitter at @KDHcoveeditor.