By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen officials arrived in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday with hopes of garnering monetary commitments from the federal government for some of the city's biggest projects.
Four council members, City Manager Connie Green and John Sutton, Killeen's aviation director, embarked on the first of two trips Killeen representatives will make this year to lobby for transportation, public safety and aviation funding.
"The annual trip gives our elected officials and staff the opportunity to address issues that may affect Killeen," said Glenn Morrison, assistant city manager. "It gives them time to discuss that one-on-one with the federal officials, lobbyists, etc."
According to data collected from the Center for Responsive Politics, Killeen spends $120,000 on lobbying efforts annually and employs Washington-based lobbying firm Austin, Copelin and Reyes to act as a liaison between the city and Capitol Hill.
In comparison, Fayetteville, N.C., a city of 121,000 and home to Fort Bragg, spent $160,000 on lobbying in 2009.
Those who made the trip in 2009 lobbied primarily for
improvement projects at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, funding for a new interchange at Rosewood Drive and U.S. Highway 190 and the development of a "railroad quiet zone" within the city.
Officials also requested grant money in 2009 to fund 15 new police officers.
The trip resulted in federal money for the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport's second runway and a promise from the Federal Aviation Administration to foot 95 percent of $2 million in construction costs for two glass boarding bridges.
Councilman Juan Rivera said the focus of this year's trip is nearly the same but that the council and staff would put more pressure on federal officials for their commitments to new projects.
Though Killeen has remained somewhat insulated from nationwide economic struggles, Rivera said the city cannot afford to pull back its efforts to keep Killeen financially growing.
"We hit all angles," he said. "In difficult times like these ones, we definitely try to hit every part that we can. Every penny counts to our city at this point."
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcity.