Lost revenue from disabled veteran property tax exemptions were the topic of note at a rare joint session of the Killeen City Council and Killeen school district board of trustees Thursday.
At a packed roundtable in the board room of the district administration building, the two bodies broke down recent projections for the state-mandated exemptions that are putting an increased strain on their budgets.
School district chief financial officer Megan Bradley said the district lost around $8 million in fiscal year 2018 operational revenues as the exemptions have increased exponentially in recent years.
Unlike the school district, which receives full reimbursement for the exemptions from the state, the city of Killeen is projecting to lose around $5 million in revenue due to the exemptions, with around $1 million reimbursed from the state in disproportionate impact aid.
School district Superintendent John Craft said the state of Texas should ultimately be responsible for covering the disproportionate impact of the exemptions as cities around Fort Hood struggle for revenue.
“I don’t think anyone in here is opposed to a disabled veteran exemption, only the disproportionate impact,” he said. “I think this is an example of unintended consequences.”
Councilman Hugh “Butch” Menking said the lack of revenue caused by the exemptions had the unintentional effect of limiting services to area veterans.
In other business, the two bodies discussed the construction of sixth high school on Chaparral Road scheduled to go online in 2022 and needed road infrastructure around the planned facility.
Killeen Public Works Director David Olson said there were three options on the table for renovating and possibly realigning Chaparral Road to accommodate four lanes of traffic and smooth out an s-curve in the road east of Featherline Road.
The planned high school was part of the district’s $426 million bond package approved by voters May 5. The bond will pay for the construction of a slew of new school and renovations and updates at older facilities.
During the planning phases of the bond, the city of Killeen floated a $30 million bond issue of its own to expand and renovate roads in south Killeen to accommodate the district’s growth, but the council decided to delay action until after the May 5 election.
On Thursday, Olson said the city was pursuing a joint funding option for Chaparral Road with Bell County and the city of Harker Heights, but no hard details on funding have been set.