• November 25, 2014

Council hears funding requests from local organizations

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Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 4:30 am

Several organizations made presentations Tuesday to the Harker Heights City Council in hopes that funding requests will be granted when budget season starts.

First up was Robert Ator with the Hill Country Transit Authority, which operates the HOP, a regional public transit system serving a nine-county area in Central Texas.

He asked the council for $31,204, $6,000 more than the previous year, to help keep pace with the growth of the region and continue to provide door-to-door services for those patrons who cannot utilize the HOP’s fixed-route services because they are disabled.

Route 35, which connects to routes 200 and 30, runs through Harker Heights and makes stops at Wal-Mart, Market Heights, H-E-B, Harker Heights high and elementary schools, Miller’s Crossing, Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, Scott & White Urgent Care Clinic and Metroplex MRI.

Robert Hoxworth with Texas A&M University-Central Texas requested $50,000 to be used exclusively to fund scholarships.

“Our request is about 10 percent of the annual scholarships that we budget to give out for the next five years and just happens to represent about 10 percent of the current student population that is from Harker Heights,” he said.

Gina Pence, president and CEO of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, asked for $41,000 from the city’s general fund, a $5,000 increase, and $15,000 from the hotel/motel fund, a $5,000 increase, to enhance programs and to market Heights as a tourist destination, which would generate travel to the city thereby creating jobs and revenue.

Phyllis Gogue, vice president of economic development at the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, asked for $12,500, which is the same level of funding it requested for the past nine years. The money will be used strictly for economic development purposes, including leading the effort to designate U.S. Highway 190 as part of the Interstate Highway System.

“A location on an interstate highway is extremely important to many industrial prospects and some retailers,” she said.

Rounding out the list of funding requests was $50,000 from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Texas, which will cover 56 percent of the cost for a professional unit director’s salary at Union Grove and Eastern Hills middle schools.

“When the sites first began operations, it was anticipated that each location would serve a minimum of 100 middle school youth, for a total of 200,” said Francie Charles, resource development director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas, adding the organization has a total membership of 699. “We’ve grown in membership and attendance annually last year, and we added the Harker Heights High School.”

In other council business, Hal Schiffman was elected to serve as mayor pro tem for the next year. Council members also voted to reappoint Billy Ray Hall Jr. as alternate judge for the next two years and to give him a $500 raise.

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